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Kin-Work in a Time of Jihad: Sustaining Bonds of Filiation and Care for Tunisian Foreign Combatants

By Alyssa Miller

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Cite As:
Miller, Alyssa. 2018. “Kin-Work in a Time of Jihad: Sustaining Bonds of Filiation and Care for Tunisian Foreign Combatants”. Cultural Anthropology 33 (4), 596-620. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca33.4.07.

Abstract

In this article, I examine the politics of kin-work performed by families of Tunisian foreign combatants, whose sons were recruited to jihadi militias following the 2011 Arab Spring. Here, I refer to a form of affective labor that engenders kinship relations through the performance of intentional acts. In the context of postrevolutionary Tunisia, where the state is currently embroiled in a domestic war against terror, families of foreign combatants perform such kin-work to make a moral claim on the state to assist them in repatriating their sons. In doing so, they must work against security discourses that define their sons as terrorists, thereby excising them from the rights-bearing category of the human. Nevertheless, kin-work is more than just a political strategy. I thus also attend to more intimate registers of kin-work, where it serves as a method for inhabiting uncertainty and providing care for absent kin.

Keywords

kinship; care; affective labor; violence; jihad; terrorism; security; Tunisia; Arab Spring