The Professional Middle Class in Afghanistan: From Pivot of Development to Political Marginality

This essay explores the various efforts to create an Afghan middle class through three periods: first under the Musahiban dynasty (until 1973) and republic (1973–1978), second during the communist period and Soviet intervention (1978–1992), and lastly since the United States-led invasion in 2001. Drawing on archival research and oral histories, the authors place the development programs of each era into broader context, while pointing to the similarities and differences. The authors also compare the Cold War period, when state-led modernization was in vogue, and the current era, when the role of the state is minimized and NGOs are a dominant part of the development landscape.

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About Artemy M. Kalinovsky

Artemy M. Kalinovsky is assistant professor in east European studies at the University of Amsterdam, where he teaches Russian, Central Asian, and Cold War history. He is the author of A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2011), and co-editor (with Sergey Radchenko) of The End of the Cold War and the Third World (Routledge, 2011), as well as (with Crag Daigle) of the Routledge Handbook of Cold War Studies (2014). More recently, he co-edited Reassessing Orientalism: Interlocking Orientologies in the Cold War Era (2015) and is a co-author of the forthcoming Missionaries of Modernity: Advisory Missions and the Struggle for Hegemony in Afghanistan and Beyond. His current research completing a book on the politics and practices of development in Soviet Central Asia, which will appear with Cornell University Press in 2017.

About Antonio Giustozzi

Antonio Giustozzi took his doctorate at the London School of Economics and Political Science and is currently visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of several articles and papers on Afghanistan, as well as of five books and two edited volumes, among which are War, Politics, and Society in Afghanistan, 1978-1992 (Georgetown University Press), Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency, 2002-2007 (Columbia University Press), and Empires of Mud: War and Warlords in Afghanistan (Columbia University Press). He also authored a volume on the role of coercion and violence in statebuilding, The Art of Coercion (Columbia University Press, 2011).