The Last Days of the Afghan Republic: A Doomed Evacuation Twenty Years in the Making

Rowman & Littlefield, 2023

last-days-of-the-afghan-republicIt’s difficult to overstate the chaos of August 2021 for many of those in Afghanistan, particularly those who had worked closely with the international community there. In a matter of days, U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan and an insurgency threw out a government the international community had spent 20 years and billions of dollars supporting. A government that claimed to stand for women’s rights, freedom of the press, education, and a litany of other ideals, was replaced by one that did not allow girls to attend secondary school. The world watched for two weeks as crowds rushed the airport, bodies fell from planes, a suicide bomber killed civilians and soldiers, and a baby was handed to a Marine over a barbed wire wall. The agony of lives so clearly destroyed, as people tried to flee their homeland with little to nothing, felt like images seen in the wake of natural disasters. But this was not a natural disaster. It was completely avoidable…more at Amazon.

Under Contract: The Invisible Workers of America’s Global War

Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2018pid_29268

War is one of the most lucrative job markets for an increasingly global workforce. Most of the work on American bases, everything from manning guard towers to cleaning the latrines to more technical engineering and accounting jobs, has been outsourced to private firms who then contract out individual jobs, often to the lowest bidder. An “American” base in Afghanistan or Iraq will be staffed with workers from places like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Turkey, Bosnia, and Nepal: so-called “third-country nationals.” What happened to the tens of thousands of international migrants who came to Afghanistan to work for the American military effort…more at Amazon.

Losing Afghanistan: An Obituary for the Intervention

pid_26145Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2016

The U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan mobilized troops, funds, and people on an international level not seen since World War II. Hundreds of thousands of individuals and tens of billions of dollars flowed into the country. But what was gained for Afghanistan―or for the international community that footed the bill? Why did development money not lead to more development? Why did a military presence make things more dangerous…more at Amazon.

Bazaar Politics: Power and Pottery in an Afghan Market Town

Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2011bazaarPolitics

After the fall of the Taliban, instability reigned across Afghanistan. However, in the small town of Istalif, located a little over an hour north of Kabul and not far from Bagram on the Shomali Plain, local politics remained relatively violence-free. Bazaar Politics examines this seemingly paradoxical situation, exploring how the town’s local politics maintained peace despite a long, violent history in a country dealing with a growing insurgency…more at Amazon.  Read the review from New York Times and The Financial Times.

Derailing Democracy: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape With Anna Larson

Derailing DemocracyNew York: Columbia University Press, 2014

This volume shows how Afghan elections since 2004 have threatened to derail the country’s fledgling democracy. Examining presidential, parliamentary, and provincial council elections and conducting interviews with more than one hundred candidates, officials, community leaders, and voters, the text shows how international approaches to Afghan elections have misunderstood the role of local actors, who have hijacked elections in their favor, alienated communities, undermined representative processes, and fueled insurgency, fostering …more at Amazon.

Articles and Reports

Looking Beyond 2014: Elections in Afghanistan’s Evolving Political Context‘ (February 2014), Chatham House.
A report on how young people are preparing for the 2014 elections in Afghanistan, some of the challenges they are facing, but also the new, hybrid strategies that they are using to access political power.

Youth Mobilization and Political Constraints in Afghanistan: The Y Factor‘ (January 2014), with Anna Larson, The United States Institute of Peace.
A report on how young people are preparing for the 2014 elections in Afghanistan, some of the challenges they are facing, but also the new, hybrid strategies that they are using to access political power.

‘Afghanistan is a Mess and Other Lies that You have Been Told’ (2013),  Anthropology News.
A look at how certain narratives about politics in Afghanistan have benefited primarily the political elite.

Justifying the Means‘ (2013), The United States Institute of Peace.
A paper with Anna Larson looks at perceptions of Afghans towards elections as they prepare for the 2015 vote.