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Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan

$32.99 (C)

  • Date Published: August 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107534582

$ 32.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Despite vast efforts to build the state, profound political order in rural Afghanistan is maintained by self-governing, customary organizations. Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan explores the rules governing these organizations to explain why they can provide public goods. Instead of withering during decades of conflict, customary authority adapted to become more responsive and deliberative. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and observations from dozens of villages across Afghanistan, and statistical analysis of nationally representative surveys, Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili demonstrates that such authority enhances citizen support for democracy, enabling the rule of law by providing citizens with a bulwark of defence against predatory state officials. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it shows that 'traditional' order does not impede the development of the state because even the most independent-minded communities see a need for a central government - but question its effectiveness when it attempts to rule them directly and without substantive consultation.

    • Considers both the capacity and limits of self-governing organizations
    • Draws on ethnographic fieldwork in more than three hundred and fifty interviews conducted in local languages across thirty villages in rural Afghanistan, as well as statistical analysis of survey data
    • Speaks to audiences interested in state-building in Afghanistan, but also to those seeking to understand the broad relations between the state and informal order
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'We often assume that customary order and the modern state are fundamentally at odds. Rolling up her sleeves to conduct in-depth fieldwork in rural Afghanistan, Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili questions this assumption by examining how the state and governance are in fact experienced at the local level. The result is a triumph of well-grounded empirical work, theoretical insight, and clear argumentation. Our understanding of how public goods are provided in weak-state contexts will never be the same.' Edward Schatz, University of Toronto

    'Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili’s extensive field research conducted in over thirty villages in ethnically diverse Afghan provinces lends great authority to her narrative on Afghanistan’s decentralized governance. Indeed, Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan, is the only book in print that explains how (her apt term) ‘informal federalism’ operates at the local level. It offers a rare, fresh, and accurate perspective for any way ahead in Afghanistan today. It should be essential reading for all those inside and outside of government interested in Afghan affairs.' Peter Tomsen, Former American Special Envoy and ambassador on Afghanistan

    'This excellent book questions the conventional wisdom that informal village governance is at odds with effective public goods provision. The author’s impressive study of Afghanistan, using hundreds of interviews and national surveys show that customary organizations not only fulfill many state functions but they also increase support for the state and democracy. In skillfully combining general theory and contextual depth, Murtazashvili advances our understanding of informal governance, decentralization, and the missed opportunities for state-building in post-Taliban Afghanistan.' Scott Radnitz, University of Washington

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107534582
    • length: 363 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 2 maps 17 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. The Politics of Customary Governance:
    2. The Afghan state in historical perspective
    3. The architecture of village governance
    Part II. Customary Governance and Public Goods Provision:
    4. The political economy of village governance
    5. Cooperation among communities
    Part III. Customary Governance and the State:
    6. Customary organizations and support for the state
    7. Federalism, Afghan style
    8. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, University of Pittsburgh
    Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science and M.A. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her research focuses on state building, public administration, social institutions, and governance in fragile states.

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