Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

AFGHANISTAN: War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

AFGHANISTAN: War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan

Article excerpt

AFGHANISTAN War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan, by Alessandro Monsutti. (Translated from the original French [Guerres et migrations, 2004, Editions de l'Institut d'ethnologie, Neuchatel] by Patrick Camiller). London, UK and New York: Routledge, 2005. xvii+252 pages. Appends, to p. 275. Notes to p. 288. Bibl. to p. 308. Index to p. 328. $90.

The scholarship of Afghanistan is enriched by this study of Hazara culture and society. War and Migration offers a superb ethnographic engagement of the format and dynamics of the various strategies of migration adopted by the Hazaras of the central highlands of Afghanistan (the only ethnolocality that does not straddle the borders of the country) during the 199Os. Grounded in critical theory, extensive fieldwork, and innovative research techniques and methodology, this is a timely scholarly boost to the anthropology of Afghanistan.

The colonially imposed borders of Afghanistan in the late 19th century did not significantly change the traditional patterns of movement of human and cultural resources within the country and across its frontiers. Nor has perennial instability, including frequent changes in the coercive ability and political configuration of the Afghan government, altered the reproduction of traditional trust-anchored and interconnected networks of kinship, friendship, ethnic, and regional affiliation. These networks are available in the daily lives of all Afghan communities and, in their transnational extensions, facilitate the movement of people, capital, and goods often virtually "under the nose" of states in the region. Challenged by the recent upheavals in Afghanistan, networks of kinship and friendship buttressed by local cultural values of solidarity and trust have produced a remarkable variety of adaptive strategies of migration within and across the borders of the country. The motivation and ability to invoke these strategies are likely to survive for the foreseeable future, independent of the level of development and stability of the state apparatus of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, scholars of Afghanistan have paid very little attention to this important dynamic of cultural and social life in Afghanistan. Alessandro Monsutti's War and Migration (and Shah Mahmoud Hanifi's work on 19th century Afghanistan) are pioneering scholarly attempts at addressing this critical deficiency in scholarship dealing with Afghanistan.

Chapter 1 provides a discussion of current anthropological concepts and theories dealing with refugees and the processes of migration as consequences of modernization and globalization. The inadequacy of existing models (especially traditional "network analysis"), insofar as they locate the dynamics of population movements in fixed territories and specific political and economic circumstances, is cogently argued. In chapter 2, Monsutti spells out his methodology and research techniques. He specifically highlights the limitations of existing migration models for engaging "transnational capitalism" and the myriad cultural and political layers involved in the spaces linking the global system with local communities. Inspired by Margaret C. Rodman's concept of "multilocality" and its applications by Pierre Centlivres and Roger Rouse, the author offers the methodology of "multilocational ethnography" for his engagement of Hazara migrations. …

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