This project explores the role of American occupation in self-conception among Kabul’s literati of the post-9/11 generation. It is based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kabul, Afghanistan. My findings demonstrate that the technologies of U.S. occupation and empire like civilian surveillance by aerial blimps, the segregation of the city between Afghans, and western nationals, and the negotiation process between the U.S. and the Taliban, which excluded the Afghan government and civil society, contributed to a negative self-conception of the young literati as Afghans. I ultimately argue that U.S. occupation is violent not only to the Taliban but also to the sense of self of those it is purporting to save from them – in this case - highly educated liberal men and women of Kabul. By doing so this project shows the racialized phenomenology of U.S. imperialism.