Afghanistan: Military Occupation and Ethnocracy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2016, 8 (3), pp. 168 - 189 (21)
Issue Date:
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The 2001 invasion and subsequent occupation consolidated ethnicity as a political force in Afghanistan. Inter-ethnic elite bargaining instituted an ethnocratic oligarchy, grounded in the occupation. Against this, everyday politics in Afghanistan has centred on social clientelism, founded on kinship networks rather than ethnicity. At the same time, formal political structures, expressed in the 2004 Constitution, are grounded in Islam and nationalist statehood rather than ethnicity. In recent years sharp disjunctures have emerged between ethnic elites and would-be constituents, creating some electoral fluidity and ethnic de-alignment. The paper addresses the relationship between occupation and ethnocracy in Afghanistan. It takes an historical perspective on the present, debating contending foundations for political solidarity and identification in the country.
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