Cover of Dying to Serve by Maria Rashid
Dying to Serve
Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army
Maria Rashid


April 2020
296 pages.
from $28.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503610415
Paper ISBN: 9781503611986



The Pakistan Army is a uniquely powerful and influential institution, with vast landholdings and resources. It has deep roots in the colonial armed forces and relies heavily on certain regions to supply its soldiers, especially parts of rural Punjab, where men have served in the army for generations. These men, their wives and mothers, and the military culture surrounding them, are the focus of Maria Rashid's Dying to Serve, which innovatively and sensitively addresses the question: how does the military thrive when so much of its work results in injury, debility, and death? Taking ritual commemorations of fallen soldiers as one critical site of study, Rashid argues that these "spectacles of mourning" are careful manipulations of affect, gendered and structured by the military to reinforce its omnipotence in the lives of its subjects. Grounding her study in the famed martial district of Chakwal, Rashid finds affect similarly deployed in recruitment and training practices, as well as management of death and compensation to families. She contends that understanding these affective technologies is crucial to challenging the appeal of the military institution globally.

About the author

Maria Rashid has been associated with the field of gender, violence against women, and children as a feminist practitioner, trainer, and researcher. A psychologist by training, she also serves on the boards and advisory committees of a number of organizations within and outside of Pakistan.

"This absorbing and troubling book grapples with the puzzle of how the Pakistani military can hold the devotion and loyalty of so many citizens while promising them endless wars, death, and impairment. Rashid's thoughtful and at times harrowing account draws on sensitive ethnography with families of martyrs and unprecedented access to military ceremonies to weave a persuasive argument about the power of martyrdom and ritualistic mourning as technologies of rule."

—Laleh Khalili, Queen Mary University of London