Veronica Kim Final Exam –Anth101 Kohistani Violence Thull, is an area where the violence of Kohistani was studied by R. Lincoln Keiser. In this region, the Kohistani, initially did not believe in bloodshed in order to solve conflicts.
As elements in their traditional lives changed, Kohistani violence became more and more prevalent in their culture. Three specific changes were the main reasons for the growth in violence. One change led to another change, which then led to a third change. These changes to the traditional culture of the Kohistani were the reason for increased violence among the Kohistani in Thull.
The Kohistani were originally pastoralists. Their subsistence methods consisted of a balance of farming and herding. The Kohistani of Thull had permanent residences in the river valleys throughout the seasons. Traditionally, women would continue to stay in these river valleys during the winter to farm, while the men moved to higher altitudes during the summer to find land for the animals. Eventually, men took over much of the subsistence efforts and took part in both farming and herding.
The culture of herding meant that the Kohistani had to build relationships with other herders in order to maintain peace and decrease violence within groups. Thull is a region that was difficult to travel in and out of without developed roads. Once roads were constructed and transportation was introduced, the Kohistani were able to travel to other regions to trade. This change introduced the Kohistani to the market economy, which disturbed the balance of herding and farming. As they became less dependent on herding, they were able to use the land for more farming.
Thus, cultivating potatoes became the main source of income for the Kohistani. The entrance into the market economy enabled the people of Thull to increase their wealth. Through the road systems and the increased inflow of cash, Kohistani were introduced to another cultural change. Initially, the Kohistani were not a group of people who resolved conflicts with bloodshed. In this culture, with a system of hierarchy, leaders were chosen to mediate when disputes arose. However, when the Kohistani entered the market economy through the development of roads, they were able to purchase firearms.
In the past, they protected themselves against enemies with other weapons such as knives and spears. As a result, when conflicts surfaced, the men of Thull were required to come into close proximity to their enemies. This was not a reasonable form of conflict resolution for the people of Thull. Therefore, violence was not the primary means of resolving disagreements. Once firearms were introduced, there was a new form of protection for the Kohistani. There was no longer a reason for the Kohistani to resolve issues through negotiations.
Instead, there was an increase in violence and blood feuding because they were able to fight and easily murder their enemies from afar. The construction of roads not only exposed the people of Thull to firearms and the market economy, but also to different influences and religions from other regions. One specific religion that influenced the Kohistani of Thull was fundamentalist Islam. The major beliefs of fundamentalist Islam were the protection of women’s purity and one’s honor. A man’s honor was directly related to a woman’s purity. For this reason, men of a family needed to protect the women in the family.
A male member of the woman’s family avenged any type of insult or action that was believed to be a threat to that woman. For example, if it were perceived that someone had threatened a woman, that person would be killed. The family of the murdered victim would want revenge upon the murderer and more killings would occur. The idea of honor was so important to the Kohistani men, that they would act in any way to protect their honor. This influence of fundamental Islam, on the Kohistani, led to greater actions of violence within and between communities.
Traditional Kohistani culture developed into what it is today through modernization. Change in one element of culture inflicted a transformation in traditional ways of conflict resolution. There is evidence of this integrated change in the culture of the Kohistani. Through the development of roads, the Kohistani adjusted their subsistence methods, how they resolved conflicts and influenced their beliefs. All of these shifts in culture eventually contributed to increased violence in the Kohistani communities of Thull.