"When glass breaks, it becomes sharper": de-constructing ethnicity in the Bamyan Valley, Afghanistan
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This thesis is a theoretically framed and historically informed political analysis of ethnicity in the Bamyan Valley, Afghanistan. Existing literature on ethnicity in Afghanistan is conceptually fragmented and lacks sufficient empirical analysis. To address this, I draw on theoretical literature, the Afghan ethnicity literature, and twelve months of fieldwork (2010-2012) to present a coherent analysis of the emergence and working of ethnicity, and also a much-needed empirical account of ethnicity in the Bamyan Valley. I view ethnicity as relational, interactional and context-dependent. Moreover, to accomodate the intersectional and punctuated nature of identity I perceive ethnicity as operating through ethnic categories. I also adopt a constructionist approach to ethnicity acknowledging that it is (re)-constructed by broad structural forces, the state, political elites and ordinary people. Additionally, I view ethnicity as (re)-constructed through "everyday ethnicity". In this regard, I take ethnicity to be experienced in commonplace social situations in Bamyan Valley. Ethnicity is embodied, performed, expressed in interpersonal interactions; and variably emphasised in different institutional settings. Methodologically, I adopt a critical realist standpoint and utilise an ethnographic method, incorporating a range of qualitative research techniques. My empirical findings demonstrate the differential impacts of post-2001 political reconstruction and socio-economic development in the Bamyan Valley. I explain the acquisition of productive resources by Hazarahs, their improving status, and the corresponding nature of tensions between Hazarahs and Saadat and Tajiks, respectively. Two case studies demonstrate this dynamic, whilst also exemplifying the role of individuals in the (re)-construction of ethnicity. The first illustrates the increasing salience of sectarian identity between Hazarahs and Tajiks, which has emerged since recognition of the Jafari school of Islam in the 2004 Afghan Constitution. The second concerns the use of ethnicity to legitimise, contest and violently enforce unequal marriage arrangements between Saadat and Hazarhs.
CitationAdlparvar, N. (2015) "When glass breaks, it becomes sharper": de-constructing ethnicity in the Bamyan Valley, Afghanistan. Doctoral thesis, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.
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- IDS PhD Theses