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Resemblances and Departures: Reimagining Mourning in Afghanistan
For those who remain in Afghanistan, the emigrated resemble the departed dead. But resemblances do not result in ontic collapse. For, while the emigrated, like the dead, are expected never to be seen again, generating a similar sensorium of loss, their haunting remainders— through voice calls, requests, and wire transfers— simultaneously impose a moratorium on mourning them. What kind of experience emerges at this threshold? In this paper, I work through ethnographic material gathered over 2022-2023 on quotidian and ritualized practices of mourning in Afghanistan in the context of the escalating political conflict over im/pious veneration of the dead. As the dead become a key site of the religious conflict shaping everyday life in Afghanistan, pushing for more people to depart, how is the everyday landscape of grief re-imagined?
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