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Anatomy of a village razing : counterinsurgency, violence, and securing the intimate in Afghanistan.

Belcher, Oliver (2018) 'Anatomy of a village razing : counterinsurgency, violence, and securing the intimate in Afghanistan.', Political geography., 62 . pp. 94-105.


In autumn 2010, the United States military partially or completely razed several villages in Helmand and Kandahar provinces as part of its counterinsurgency campaign in southern Afghanistan. In the spring 2011, U.S.-led forces rebuilt one of the villages, Taroke Kalacha, to showcase the “humane” side of contemporary U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine. This article analyses the logics and rationalities informing the reconstruction of Taroke Kalacha, and why the rebuilding effort ultimately failed. I examine a wide spectrum of biopolitical initiatives involved in the 2010–2011 “Hamkari” counterinsurgency operations, and show how violence became a protracted condition for displaced villagers as durable lines of force were inscribed into the communal relations and material arrangements of the built environment(s) in Kandahar. I focus on what I call “securing the intimate”; namely, the attempts by U.S. forces to harness Afghan households as sites of indirect rule. In this anatomy of a village razing, I analyse two specific problems with the reconstruction of Taroke Kalacha: (1) the bid to establish a new political order by bringing the villagers closer to local governance structures through the dubious process of U.S. military compensation schemes; and (2) how the rebuilt structures in Taroke Kalacha deviated from the “local style” with devastating effect, especially for women in the village.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2017 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:16 October 2017
Date deposited:13 December 2017
Date of first online publication:26 October 2017
Date first made open access:26 October 2019

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