The Specter of Failure: Rendering Afghan Women as Sites of Precarity in Empowerment Regimes

TitleThe Specter of Failure: Rendering Afghan Women as Sites of Precarity in Empowerment Regimes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsZeweri, H
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Date Published04/2017

This article analyzes how the category of "Afghan women" and discourses of precarity intersect within the women's empowerment regime in Afghanistan. By examining an NGO that seeks to empower women through writing, [the author] that staff members draw upon precarity as a go-to logic to describe the state of Afghan women writers' successes under conditions of insecurity and limited communication. Specifically, it is writers' desires to subvert their social orders and to carve out their own futures that staff members and writing coordinators frame as subject to potential destruction. While recent work has highlighted the importance of recognizing the precarious lifeworlds of vulnerable populations, this article points to the potential implications of a hyper-recognition of precarity - namely, the obscuring of the complexities of individual women's past and present realities. Through analyzing the pedagogies of one empowerment NGO working with women in a post-9/11 Afghanistan, [the author shows] how the logic of precarity is concerned with the vulnerability of women's desires and sentiments, rather than their material and political vulnerabilities. It is thus deeply inflected by a historically situated "common sense" about which potentialities and aspirations are inherent to Afghan women.

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