Being part of a violent community in revolt can be addictive-it can be fun. This book offers a fascinating inside look at present-day political violence in Pakistan through a historical ethnography of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of the most remarkable and successful religious nationalist movements in postcolonial South Asia. The MQM has mobilized much of the "migrant" (Muhajir) population in Karachi and other urban centers in southern Pakistan and has fomented large-scale ethnic-religious violence. Oskar Verkaaik argues that urban youth see it as an irresistible opportunity for "fun." Drawing on both anthropological fieldwork, including participatory observation among political militants, and historical analyses of state formation, nation-building, and the ethnicization of Islam since 1947, he provides an absorbing and important contribution to theoretical debates about political-religious and nationalist-violence.
Oskar Verkaaik is Assistant Professor at the Research Center for Religion and Society, University of Amsterdam, and head of the branch office of the International Institute for Asian Studies. He is the author of A People of Migrants and a popular book in Dutch based on his experiences in Pakistan.