The Second Afghanistan Studies Conference: Independence, More Independence, and Beyond Independence

The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS) with Afghanistan center at Kabul University (ACKU) organized the second Afghanistan studies conference from August 17-18, 2019 at Kabul.

The second-year Afghanistan studies conference brought together 60 local and global scholars, along with 10 disciplinary and interdisciplinary panels, a Keynote Address, and an Afghanistan Studies Book Lecture.

The first day of the conference started with the welcoming and opening remarks by Dr Omar Sharifi the AIAS director and Waheed Wafa the director of the ACKU, followed by the first session of the day which was titled as Text, Perspective, and Culture: The Problem of Agency in Afghanistan’s Scholarship’. The first panel of the session one included presentations and discussions about the people’s culture and people’s knowledge. Two distinguished scholars presented their research papers in this panel, Dr Ali Abdi PhD, Anthropology, Yale University (Dancing Bachas, Shakhs, and Gay Men: The Culture of Same-Sex Desire in Kabul ) and Jalal Atai, lecturer, Breda University of Applied sciences (The Destruction of Buddhas: Dissonant Heritage, Islamic or Political Iconoclasm). Presented papers were discussed by Dr Sayed Askar Musawi. PhD, Anthropologist of Afghanistan and Dr Omar Sharifi, PhD, Anthropology, Boston University.

The second panel of the day discussed the Afghans’ Minds and Afghans’ Bodies.  The papers presented in the second panel were by Dr Farid Tookhy, PhD, Political science, Georgetown University (From State-Building, Secularism and Contestation: Afghanistan Under Amanullah and Beyond)  and MS Maryam Hannun, PhD candidate, Islamic studies, Georgetown University (Tracing the Role of Afghan Women in the Wake of Independence). The discussant in this panel was Faiz Ahmed, PhD, History, Brown University.

In the third panel of the day, one local scholar from Ghor province of Afghanistan and one Female University student from Herat city of Afghanistan presented their papers. Mr. Nabi Saqee from Ghor university presented the paper (The importance of local and indigenous research) this paper was the first research paper from A local researcher from Ghor province of Afghanistan and his paper was discussed by Dr Mahiuddin Mahdi, PhD, Literary critic, Afghanistan. The second presenter was MS Maryam Jami, a University student from Herat University and her paper was titled as Independent Afghanistan in the Path of History: Rethinking Afghanistan’s Independence in Post-1919 Context. Her paper was discussed by Dr Jawanshir Rasekh, PhD, South Asia Studies, from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Keynote Address was given by Dr Margaret Mills Professor Emerita (The Ohio State University) and her talk was given the title of The Traditional and the National: Some Documentary History and Problematic.

The second and afternoon session of the first day was titled as ‘Enduring Economics, Culture, and Relations: Afghanistan Inside-Out.

The first panel of the second session ((Un)-Producing in Afghanistan’s Economy, and Politics,) had three presenters. The first paper was presented by Mr. Kambaiz Rafi, MPhil/PhD. Candidate, University College London with the title of Production during Times of Instability and his paper was discussed by Kaweh Kerami, PhD. Candidate. SOAS-London. The second paper was presented by Mr. Vibhav Pradhan, MPhil candidate from South Asian University and his paper was titled as War and Economy Nexus: Afghanistan’s Perpetual Opium Trade and his paper was discussed by Mr. Kambaiz Rafi. The third presenter of the panel was Dr Nazif M. Shahrani, PhD., Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington and the title of his paper was: Afghanistan’s Century of Independence Marred by Dependence, More Dependence and Self-Deceptions and the disciplinary discussant for this paper was Dipali Mukhopadhyay, PhD., Political Science from Columbia University.

The papers presented in the second panel of the second session discussed Afghanistan in South Asia’s Political Imagination. Mr. Raghav Sharma, PhD., Political Science, O.P Jindal Global University was the first presenter of the panel and his paper was titled as Deciphering India’s North-West Engagement. His paper was discussed by Ellinor Zeino, PhD, Political Science from the University of Hamburg.  The second presenter of the panel was Dr Alka, PhD., Center for Inner Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, her paper was about India’s Soft Power: Case of Indo-Afghan Development Partnership disciplinary discussant for this paper was Sharif Hozoori, PhD. Candidate. Center for International Politics, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The third presenter was from china, Mr. Bao Deleng, PhD. Candidate, School of Foreign Languages, Department of Asian and African Languages and Literatures, Peking University. He presented his paper (Translation, Memoirs and Collecting in and out of Afghanistan Since 1963: A Study on Writings of a Chinese Diplomat) and it was discussed by Dr Omar Sharifi.

The first day of the conference was concluded with a dinner reception from ACKU.

The second day of the Afghanistan studies conference was held on the 18th, August 2019.

The second day of the conference (‘Sovereignty, Peace Process, and Afghanistan’s Foreign Relations’) started with the first panel discussing governing new Afghanistan. The first paper was presented by Dipali Mukhopadhyay, PhD. Political Science, Columbia University with the title of State-Building in the Shadow of Counterterrorism: The Palace Politics of ‘Precarious Sovereignty. Dr Mukhopadhyay’s paper was discussed by Arian Sharifi, PhD. Political Science, Tufts University. The second paper of the panel was presented by an Australian scholar William Maley, PhD. Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy from the Australian National University. Dr Maley’s paper was titled Shared Sovereignty: Some Lessons from and for Afghanistan. The paper was discussed by Dr Nazif M. Shahrani.

The second panel of the day was about Locating war and peace in Afghanistan. Three distinguished scholars presented their research papers in the panel.

The first presenter of the panel was Mr. Arian Sharifi, a PhD degree holder in Political Science from Tufts University and his paper was about Explaining the Strategic Choice of Violence in Islamist Groups: A Social Movement Theory Approach. Mr. Sharifi’s paper was discussed by Dr Omar Sadr. The second paper was presented by MS. Farkhondeh Akbari, PhD. Candidate. Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University. The paper was titled as Peace Settlements: Lessons from Cambodia for Afghanistan and it was discussed by Dr Sayed Parto, PhD. Human Geography, University of Waterloo. The third paper of the panel was about democratization in Afghanistan and it was presented by Mr. Wahid Watanyar, PhD. Candidate. Political Science, University of Heidelberg. Mr. Watanyar’s paper was discussed by Ahmadiullah Archiwal, Political Science from Rutgers University, New Jersey.

The third panel’s topic was Afghanistan’s developing foreign relations. The first presented of the panel was Mr Wahidullah Qaderi a law and political science student from Takhar University and his paper was about Amani’s foreign politics and the paper was discussed by Mr. Amir Ramin.

The second presenter of the panel was Nasir Ahmad Taraki, MPhil, Defense & Strategic Studies from University of Pune. His paper was about Afghanistan in transformation decade 2014-2024 and its role in the Asian Century: A post-American Scenario and the disciplinary discussant for this paper was Mr. Wahid Watanyar.

The third panel was followed by Afghanistan book lecture and the lecture was given by Mr. Farukh Hussain, an independent scholar from London, UK and author of the book Afghanistan in the age of empires. This book has a primary focus on the struggle for power of Shah Shuja Ul Mulk paving the way for the first Afghan war. The book charts the rise and fall of Durrani rule in Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan.

The fourth and last session of the conference started with the panel discussion about Reading India-Afghanistan in the Past and Present.

The first presenter of the panel was Mr. Mohammad Reyaz, a PhD scholar of International Studies from Jamia Millia Islamia and his paper was titled as Afghans in Indian Films: From Kabuliwala to Kesari. Mr. Reyaz’s paper was discussed by Sahraa Karimi, PhD, Film and Television Faculty, Fine Arts University, Bratislava, Slovakia and director of Afghan film. The second paper was from Mr. Gowhar Farooq, PhD. Candidate. Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia University. This paper was about Connecting with Homeland: Media Consumption of Afghan Diaspora in India. The paper was discussed by Dr. Victoria Fontan from the American University of Afghanistan.  The last paper of the panel was presented by Furquan Ameen an Independent Scholar, Special Correspondent from The Telegraph-India. The paper was titled as Afghanistan in Indian Press: A Case Study of a Leading English Daily and it was discussed by Abdullah Azada Khenjani, Editor-in-Chief, 1 Television Network, Afghanistan.

The last panel of the conference was about local Afghans ethnographies, policy scholarship.

Two presenters presented their papers in the panel. The first presenter was MS. Marzia Azizi a Political Science and Public Administration student from the American University of Afghanistan and her paper was about Afghan Women Coalitions in the Parliament. Her paper was discussed by Marya Hannun, PhD. Candidate. Islamic Studies from Georgetown University. The last presenter of the Afghanistan studies conference was Mr. Sayed Baqir Hussaini, Journalism lecturer from Kabul University. Mr. Hussaini presented a very interesting paper to the audience titled as, from masculinity to escape: A study of factors of escape from home for the purpose of marriage. His paper was discussed by Humaira Qadery, PhD., Persian Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The concluding remarks of the program was given by Dr. Dipali Mukhopadhyay, PhD., Political Science from Columbia University.

The two-day conference on Afghanistan studies ended with a dinner reception by the American Institute of Afghanistan studies.

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