Irene Good (Peabody Museum, Harvard University) – “Exploring the Role of Highland Interaction in the Emergence of the Oxus Civilization.”
The spectacular Central Asian bronze age Oxus Civilization was discovered with much excitement in the early 1970s in northern Afghanistan just before the Soviet invasion, which thus precipitated unbridled looting of archaeological sites throughout much of the Balkh, Takhar, and Kunduz provinces, a region known in Hellenistic times as Bactria. This resulted in an unprecedented loss of context, severely hampering research efforts on the part of archaeologists. However, much can be learned from studying the hinterland of the Oxus Civilization. The research proposed is based on the premise that the fertile, deeply cut river valleys of Tajikistan participated in the pre-history of Bactria; and that highland resources such as lapis lazuli brought small-scale agro-pastoral communities into a larger sphere of interaction with the ancient civilized world in a web of complex exchange networks from China to the Mediterranean that became the template for the later historic Silk Road.
Craig Naumann (University of Munster, Germany) – “Mapping and Mining the Pashtunwali as a Tool for Peace and Development.”
A lot has been written about the structural dependency and the rentier state-type character in financial and military terms of the current state of Afghanistan. What is lacking are competing, alternative civilian humanitarian concepts for a decidedly non-military reconstruction and development approach for Afghanistan, and in particular inclusive development approach for the troubled South that embrace conservative elements including the orthodox Taliban, who almost exclusively belong to the Pashtun ethnic group. The precepts of tribal self-regulation are laid down in their code of honor, the “Pashtunwali.” The currently existing internationally supported sectoral development strategies, which are being implemented regularly, fail to address this “tribal” dimension. Or, if they do, tend to sideline it, putting a premium on modern, non-tribal, non-autochthonous intervention-style programs. His work will ideally serve as a point of reference for scholarly purposes and Afghanologists, but beyond the academic realm also for real-life project, program, and policy design since providing practical guidance.
John F. Shroder (University of Nebraska at Omaha) – “Proposal to hold a conference on ‘Development and Reconstruction in Afghanistan.’”
Decades of war and terrorism in Afghanistan have reduced much of the infrastructure of the country, and although great strides in development have been made in bringing the country back from the brink, far more is needed in spite of Taliban resistance. In particular, the international academic world needs to become re-engaged in development studies as it once was. A conference and a book on the topic are planned.