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Bazaar Politics: Power and Pottery in an Afghan Market Town
     

Bazaar Politics: Power and Pottery in an Afghan Market Town

by Noah Coburn
 

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ISBN-10: 0804776725

ISBN-13: 9780804776721

Pub. Date: 10/19/2011

Publisher: Stanford University Press

After the fall of the Taliban, instability reigned across Afghanistan. However, in the small town of Istalif, located a little over an hour north of Kabul and not far from Bagram on the Shomali Plain, local politics remained relatively violence-free. Bazaar Politics examines this seemingly paradoxical situation, exploring how the town's local politics

Overview

After the fall of the Taliban, instability reigned across Afghanistan. However, in the small town of Istalif, located a little over an hour north of Kabul and not far from Bagram on the Shomali Plain, local politics remained relatively violence-free. Bazaar Politics examines this seemingly paradoxical situation, exploring how the town's local politics maintained peace despite a long, violent history in a country dealing with a growing insurgency.
At the heart of this story are the Istalifi potters, skilled craftsmen trained over generations. With workshops organized around extended families and competition between workshops strong, kinship relations become political and subtle negotiations over power and authority underscore most interactions. Starting from this microcosm, Noah Coburn then investigates power and relationships at various levels, from the potters' families; to the local officials, religious figures, and former warlords; and ultimately to the international community and NGO workers.
Offering the first long-term on-the-ground study since the arrival of allied forces in 2001, Noah Coburn introduces readers to daily life in Afghanistan through portraits of local residents and stories of his own experiences. He reveals the ways in which the international community has misunderstood the forces driving local conflict and the insurgency, misunderstandings that have ultimately contributed to the political unrest rather than resolved it. Though on first blush the potters of Istalif may seem far removed from international affairs, it is only through understanding politics, power, and culture on the local level that we can then shed new light on Afghanistan's difficult search for peace.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804776721
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
Publication date:
10/19/2011
Series:
Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and I Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
710,512
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................ix
A Rocky Road....................1
1 Groups and Violence....................5
Ethnography and Suspicion....................17
2 Social Organization in Istalif....................22
Making Pots....................32
3 How Making Pots Bound People Together....................34
The Art of Finding a Bargain....................50
4 How Selling Pots Tore People Apart....................53
Telling Stories....................73
5 Leadership, Descent, and Marriage....................76
Dinner....................103
6 Cultural Definitions of Power in Istalif....................106
Election Day....................142
7 Masterly Inactivity: The Politics of Stagnation....................145
The Director of Intelligence....................180
8 The Afghan State as a Useful Fiction....................182
Paktya-Eighteen Months Later....................206
9 Thinking About Violence, Social Organization, and International Intervention....................208
Notes....................225
Bibliography....................239
Index....................247

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