"Fear and Trembling": Talking Emotions with Young Born-Again Muslim Activists in Pakistan

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:10 AM
Room: 411
Oral Presentation
Amélie BLOM , Centre d'Etudes de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud (Emopolis program), CNRS, Paris, France
There is now a broader acceptance, in Sociology and Political science, that instrumental behavior alone fails to explain social movements: emotions should be brought back in. Yet, and beside Jasper's (1997) "moral shock", collective action scholars have generally paid more attention to the "emotion work" (Hochschild, 1979) undertaken by the entrepreneurs of a mobilization, or to their "sensitizing devices" (Traïni, 2010), than to the role played by emotions in facilitating individuals' receptivity to a cause and, consequently (but not necessarily), their participation to any form of socio-political mobilization. In other words: how does an emotional predisposition to translate into effective protest? This study aims at contributing to our understanding of the interlinkage between emotions and protest at the micro level by following an ethnographic political science and an emic perspective. The empirical lens through which this will be done is the politicization of young "born-again Muslims" in Pakistan (a country where self-reform and activism in the name of Islam has become one of the main channels of contentious politics amongst the urban youth). This case-study will help us to address three broader issues. Firstly, the paper will deal with an unavoidable methodological question - how to access emotions? - and identify five ways of doing so with interview-based narratives. Secondly, it will defend the need to locate emotions in situations (Frijda 1986, Aranguren 2013): "talking emotions" is talking about them in specific settings, interactions, and temporal episodes. Finally, the paper will conclude on the importance of exploring the dialectical relationship between specific emotions (fear and appeasement, love and hate, shame and pride, for instance) in order to make sense of individuals' commitment to a cause; an important path opened up a decade ago by Gould (2001).