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Philosophische Fakultät - Jahrgang 2015


Titel (Re-)Constructing Afghanistan?
Rewriting rural Afghans’ Lebenswelten into recent development and state-making processes

An analysis of local governance and social order
Autor Katja Manuela Mielke
Publikationsform Dissertation
Abstract Afghanistan has been in political turmoil since the late 1970s. The coup d’état in April 1978 was followed by Soviet intervention, civil war, Taliban rule and recent international intervention. This dissertation identifies modalities of local governance by analyzing the patterns of representation, conflict mediation, legitimacy, and power of Afghan rural society in the second half of the post-2001 decade as well as changes in local governance patterns over the past three decades. The study is based on more than 14 months of field research, which was conducted between 2006 and 2009 in seven districts of three provinces of northeastern Afghanistan: Kunduz, Takhar, and Baghlan.
Adopting a broad understanding of local governance as field-specific activities that regulate the collective coexistence of social communities in different action arenas, this study posits that local governance is more than local government. It enables a comprehensive consideration of non-government-related influences, the life-worlds of rural dwellers, and the everyday practices and underlying norms and experiences (moralities) that structure self-conduct, intra- and inter-community governance processes, local politics, and social order of rural society in northeastern Afghanistan. The dissertation adopts natural resource user communities as a level of analysis in which a particular environmental resource is used and access to it is negotiated between its actual and potential users. The primarily qualitative analysis used in this study examines access patterns, bundles of power resources, and legitimacy in three types of local resource user arenas. Specifically, the study explores the negotiation of access to irrigation water in five canal areas of the Kunduz oasis, the access to pastures and rangeland in two mountainous districts of Takhar, and the access to wood and other non-woody fuel plants in selected communities of Baghlan and Takhar. By considering the social differentiations within resource user communities, the study outlines the ambitions and dilemmas of average local resource users and their appointed caretakers in terms of their attempts to secure equitable access amidst the competing interests of rural elites. Different types of local representatives are shown to determine the fate of the rural population and to exert a key role in rural development in terms of locals’ attitudes towards their government and the international aid community. This work evaluates the implementation process of three natural resource management projects under international guidance in the research area and concludes that Afghanistan’s rural development and reconstruction processes establish an image of reforms and state-building. Instead, negotiated state-making with highly uncertain outcomes is manifest.
In conclusion, the key features of everyday politics in rural northeast Afghanistan and the main concepts are revisited. It is argued that popular dichotomist notions such as the distinction between state versus society or formal versus informal institutions are not applicable, as structural-relational factors explain governance processes better than rights-based approaches. The analysis presents bundles of power resources as an operational concept of power. The author suggests that the disconnect between local social order and the ordering ideal of the international community can only be bridged by acknowledging local realities and designing programs and interventions accordingly. This recognition of rural Afghans’ life-worlds and local realities is the precondition for a qualitatively different engagement between the international community and Afghanistan, which would presumably lead to sustainable reconstruction.
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© Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn | Veröffentlicht: 22.04.2015