Afghanistan and the Crisis of National Identity

-A Presentation by Sayed Askar Mousavi-

What is it to identify with one’s nation-state? This question, essentially simple in most Western countries, continues to bedevil Afghanistan. In a nutshell, the word “Afghan” may mean different things to different citizens. As the country strives to regain stability, the issue of national identity is vitally important… and potentially inflammatory. Unless confronted, however, it will continue to plague citizens of all ethnic groups.

09-28-06Born in Kabul, S.A. Mousavi attended Habibia High School in the last years of the monarchy. As with so many Afghans, his next years were disrupted by conflict and consequent travel – to Iran, India, and Pakistan. While homeless in an Islamabad tourist camp, he learned by chance of a British Council competitive scholarship, applied for it, and won. Once in England, he attended Norwich University before becoming the first Afghan to earn Oxford’s coveted D. Phil. degree. His subsequent book, The Hazaras of Afghanistan, is considered a classic on the topic.

Dr. Mousavi is currently Chief Advisor to the Minister of Higher Education.

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