This Chapter was published as a guest editorial in Anthropology Today, 29: 4, August 2013, under the title “Foregrounding the Muslim tribal periphery”. This book is arguably the finest of Professor Akbar Ahmed’s many publications, blending a literary and religious sensibility with political and historical analysis – a model for engaged anthropology. It can be read on two levels. It is a political indictment of the disproportionate victimization of Muslim tribespeople by remotely controlled military weapons – a policy which risks leading to a cycle of revenge. But the drone is also a metaphor for the current age of globalization, “something which comes from nowhere, destroys your life and goes away”, while the prickly, tenacious “thistle” is an image that captures the essence of tribal societies (an image borrowed from Tolstoy’s posthumous novel Hadji Murad).
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