A very quick notice from the tail end of a restful weekend here in Moscow: I’ll be giving a talk on some of my dissertation research, entitled ‘From Pashtunwali to Communism? The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan, State-Building, and Pashtunistan as Cold War Crisis’ at the Moscow American Center at 6 PM this Wednesday, December 12. A very quick blurb for the talk:
Scholars today often think of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as a primarily military operation, but the invasion also signaled the high-water mark of the USSR’s developmental interventions in the Third World. Among the thousands of civilian advisors sent to Afghanistan were those from Komsomol (VLKSM), the youth wing of the CPSU, who were sent to provincial Afghanistan to build up the Afghan Communist Party. In this presentation, I seek to put the experience of those VLKSM advisors sent to eastern Afghanistan, along the border with Pakistan, from roughly 1979 to 1989 in broader historical context, showing how the chaos that enveloped this specific region of Afghanistan was much less the product of an eternal Afghan role as a ‘graveyard’ of empires and more that of a very specific breakdown in ideas about economic development and state-building that froze up in the region by the early 1970s.
For directions to the American Center, located on the third floor of the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, see the directions here on their website. Here’s hoping that I get a good crowd … !