Afghanistan

This page is where you can find posts, articles, book chapters and books on Afghanistan by Nancy Lindisfarne, Jonathan Neale and Richard Tapper.

Click here for My First Day in Camp with the Piruzai by Nancy Lindisfarne. “In 1971 and 1972 Richard Tapper and I lived with Afghan villagers for nearly a year. The Piruzai, some 200 families, lived in two small settlements near the town of Sar-e Pol in northern Afghanistan. They were Pashtu-speakers, pastoralists and peasant farmers, poor people, working very hard to survive in a vicious feudal system.

“The people, the setting, and even the division of labour between Richard and myself seemed to conform to every stereotype about the Middle East. There were veiled women, men on horseback, camel caravans, stunning scenery and dramatic lives. These were stereotypes shared by the Afghan officials, politicians and urban professionals we met in Kabul. But the people we met were not two dimensional.

Click on Maryam FAIR COPY to download Maryam’s Story by Nancy Lindisfarne-Tapper and Richard Tapper. “In the early 1970s we made more than 100 hours of tape recordings, as part of ethnographic fieldwork among the Piruzai, Pashtun farmers and semi-nomadic pastoralists in northern Afghanistan. These village voices create a remarkable community self-portrait of a social world now lost and irretrievable.

“Maryam’s story is the perfect exemplar of an unconventional form of auto-ethnography. Maryam was married some thirty years before, as part of a series of marriage exchanges intended to settle a feud between two main Piruzai families. Her husband, Tumân, became village headman, a Haji, and in 1971 our host. Later, Pâkiza, Tumân’s second wife and Maryam’s co-wife, became the bane of her life. Her account captures something of the depth and colour of people’s lives. It gives voice to the ensuing silence over the past nearly fifty years and offers a radical challenge to the gendered stereotypes which have dominated the global and Afghan media during the past forty years of war and occupation.

Click here to order Afghan Village Voices: Stories from a Tribal Community by Richard Tapper with Nancy Lindisfarne-Tapper, Bloomsbury, 2020. “This is a book of stories told by the Piruzai, a rural Afghan community who farmed in northern Afghanistan and in summer took their flocks to the central Hazârajât mountains. It is a collection of remarkable stories, folktales and conversations and provides unprecedented insight into the depth and colour of these people’s lives. Recorded in the early 1970s, the stories range from memories of the Piruzai migration to the north a half century before, to the feuds, ethnic strife and the doings of powerful khans. There are also stories of falling in love, elopements, marriages, childbirth and the world of spirits. It is a remarkable document of Afghanistan at peace, told by a people whose voices have rarely been heard.

No one on the left, or anywhere else, writes much about the class basis of the Taliban. The exception is Nancy Lindisfarne. This is her chapter on “Exceptional Pashtuns? Class Politics, Imperialism and Historiography. Starting from the example of the Pakistani Taliban in Swat, and working outwards, she presents some inconvenient facts. Nancy lays out evidence that the Taliban particularly on support from landless and small peasants, and that when they take control in a valley they drive out the landlords. Moreover, their leadership comes much more humble backgrounds than almost any other Islamist movement.

Click on Oil Empires 16Nov2015 FIN5 for
Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale’s history of
Oil Empires and Resistance in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
First published in 2015,
and 25,000 words long,
 it will give you solid background to the ongoing wars today.

 

Click here for Jonathan Neale’s chapter on Ranting and Silence: Contradictions of Writing for Activists and Academics. Most of it is advice for activists and radicals trying to survive in an academic world, but it begins with the example of his fieldwork with poor yoghurt peddlers in Afghanistan and his struggles in writing about them.