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‘We Are Both Diplomats and Traders’

Afghan Transregional Traders Across the Former Soviet Union

Magnus Marsden

Introduction In the heady atmosphere of Kiev’s Maidan protests of 2013/14, one individual to successfully forge a political career was Mustafa Nayyem, an Afghan-born journalist, who had first achieved notoriety across Ukraine in 2009 having

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Elisabeth Yarbakhsh

Derrida’s hostipitalité formulation provides a framework through which we might begin to explore the relationship between Iranian citizen-hosts and Afghan refugee-guests in the city of Shiraz and the surrounding province. Notions of Iranian hospitality thread through multiple and diverse constructions of Iranian selfhood. Religion, poetry and history speak to what it means to be Iranian, marking out categories of Self and Other and, in doing so, exposing the limits of hospitality in the very spaces that the nation is most acutely felt.

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Follow the Afghan War

Methods, Interpretations, Imagination

Irene Kucera

Anthropological research in war-torn countries like Afghanistan is dangerous and therefore often impossible. There are various constraints, both general and specific, that often hinder an anthropologist from going out into the field. This is not a new problem for social anthropology, but it is increasingly preoccupying the discipline. Thus, a 'distance approach' needs to be developed for studying the ethnography of the Afghan war. This article proposes one methodological possibility for approaching the Afghan war from other perspectives. This method involves extensive reading in and analysis of various written works and the critical examination of web sites and other media, in combination with fieldwork in Europe and Central Asia. In order to demonstrate this approach, the discourse on women's rights will be discussed.

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Manly Merchants

Commerce, Mobility and Masculinity among Afghan Traders in Eurasia

Magnus Marsden

This article explores intersections between masculinity, mobility, generation and commerce through the everyday lives of Afghan men who make up trading networks that are active across Eurasia. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork among Afghan traders in Ukraine’s port city of Odessa and in the international trading city of Yiwu in China. Building on recent work in anthropology concerning the ‘emergent’ nature of Middle Eastern masculinities, the article brings attention to the flexible and adaptable nature of the notions of masculinity held and performed by mobile Afghan traders. It emphasises the need for such conceptions of masculinity to be treated historically and draws attention to the forms of caregiving that are especially important to the traders’ intimate lives and self-understandings. The article also highlights the significance of complex notions of trust both to the traders’ articulation of conceptions of manliness and to their everyday modes of securing a livelihood.

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"Picnics with the Mujaheddin"

Paratexts and Personal Motivation in Travel Writing about Afghanistan

Kerry Featherstone

This article considers the stated motivations for travel in the case of three examples of travel writing about Afghanistan. Jason Elliot’s An Unexpected Light documents his travel in 1984 during the war between the Afghan Mujaheddin and the Soviets; Jonny Bealby’s For a Pagan Song, first published in 1998, takes place during the civil war between Mujaheddin and the Taleban; Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between was written about travel between 2000 and 2002, during which time Operation Enduring Freedom was launched against the Taleban. The article deploys Genette’s concept of paratexts in order to show how the acknowledgments, blurbs, and other paratextual material, when read against the grain, undermine the relationship between the writer and their stated motivations and, thus, destabilize the self-representation of each writer in the course of the narrative. The outcome of these readings is a critique of the three texts, arguing that each one works to justify their travel through a combination of self-narration and paratextual material but that none of them address the implications of their travel for the Afghan people or that the purpose of the travel is to write the text.

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Retours en Afghanistan

Un nouveau regard sur un terrain revisité

Pierre Centlivres and Micheline Centlivres-Demont

Returning to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005, the authors revisit the places in the north of the country where they undertook research in the 1970s and observe the ruptures and the continuities in the society after 30 years of crisis and conflict. They comment also on their own changes of perspective brought about by the elapsed time and their return. Finally, they tackle the question of the return and reintegration of the refugees, as well as the concept of the village and the advent of new national and international actors on the Afghan scene.

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A Beginning, Two Ends, and a Thickened Middle

Journeys in Afghanistan from Byron to Hosseini

Graham Huggan

This article looks at three disparate travel texts—Robert Byron's classic 1937 travelogue The Road to Oxiana, Khaled Hosseini's massively popular 2003 novel The Kite Runner, and Michael Winterbottom's emotionally wrenching 2002 fauxdocumentary In This World—which deal, either directly or indirectly, with Afghanistan. It argues that the geographical coordinates of Afghanistan have recently been confused with the “War on Terror,” and that one of the most notable results of this has been the ideological assimilation of a Central Asian nation to the post–9/11-inspired imaginative geography of a “Greater Middle East.” The article seeks to account for this latter-day history of geographical misprision, but also for the triangulated relationship between travel, empire, and colonial modernity that underlies it—a relationship in which the US-dominated “colonial present” (Gregory 2004) maps onto the British imperial past.

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From Khariji to Kabuli

Being an 'Insider/Outsider' in an Afghan Woman's Fieldwork

Shaharzad Akbar

This article reflects on the challenges of being an 'outsider' in one's own culture and on the journey from being a complete outsider to an 'insider/outsider'. Reflecting on fieldwork among women in north-east Afghanistan, the article explores assumptions and perceptions about Badakhshan and its people and the role of fieldwork in shattering them. It is also a reflection about values and compromises and the researcher's struggle to negotiate the appropriate balance. The article sheds light on the researcher's search for and discovery of different versions of herself when faced with a different version of 'home'.

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Tactique de guerre, techniques du corps

Pour une lecture du fait guerrier en Afghanistan à partir d'images filmées

Agnès Devictor and Camille Perréand

Based on an analysis of films shot by Youssouf Janessar, the cameraman of the Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, this article presents a study of the Afghan wars between 1982 and 1992. It considers the act of filming in its anthropological meaning and the ethnographic dimension as translated by these images. The article first deals with the link between Massoud and recorded images and, more widely, his relationship with modern technology in combat. It then proposes an anthropological analysis of fighters based on a reading of these images, which record traces of behaviour, comportment and appearance - a repository of non-verbal communication between fighters - and which represent very rich material for the anthropological study of war.

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Holly Thorpe

my recent and ongoing work that focuses on new forms of youth resourcefulness and activism in damaged and conflicted spaces, particularly in Christchurch, Afghanistan, and Gaza. These are contexts in which youth physical mobilities are highly