Saturday, February 13, 2010

Security and Governance in Post-Taliban Afghanistan: Video Lecture by an Actual Afghanistan Expert, Prof. M. Nazif Shahrani

Embedded is a lecture on "post-Taliban (government)" Afghanistan, entitled "Security and Governance in Post-Taliban Afghanistan: What Went Wrong and Why?," by Professor M. Nazif Shahrani of Indiana University, Bloomington (IUB). A native Afghan and expert on the country, Central Asia, and the Middle East, he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Washington in Seattle and has conducted in-depth field work in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Fluent in several languages, including Uzbek, Persian, Pashtu, Kirghiz, and Turkish, Prof. Shahrani is currently the chair of IUB's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (my current department), in which he is also a professor. He is also a professor in the Departments of Central Eurasian Studies and Anthropology.

Full disclosure, I have taken several graduate seminars with Prof. Shahrani and have also had the honor of working as one of his research assistants. He is an excellent teacher and provides his students with key insights from both his personal and professional experiences. His expertise is particularly relevant today, as war rages in Afghanistan and a political debate is being waged between different ideological and political factions in the United States and among its NATO allies about "counter-insurgency" (COIN), occupation, and support of the corrupt government of Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

In this lecture, Prof. Shahrani provides key insights into the situation in post-December 2001 Afghanistan, paying close attention to what he sees as misguided reliance on politicized sectarianism and the emergence of a potent insurgency led by the multiple Afghan "Talibans." He also makes a convincing argument for adopting a much more localized approach to governance, questioning claims that a central government should exercise a near monopoly over state power. While watching the lecture, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him discuss briefly the Afghan Taliban's(s) media, specifically its expansive web sites, which I mentioned to him earlier in the autumn.

The lecture was delivered on October 30, 2009 at the University of Alaska, Southeast.

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