On Timor Sharan’s Bookshelf

Bazaar Politics, by Noah Coburn

This ethnographic study takes a micro-level approach to understand statehood and governance in Afghanistan by examining power dynamics in a small town North of Kabul, Istalif, and provides insight underlying the role of informal actors and war economy in supporting and maintaining informal order in rural Afghanistan. My work is inspired by Coburn’s study and builds on it to provide a macro level analysis of the role and power dynamics of political networks in everyday governance and statehood in post-2001 Afghanistan.

Warlord Survival, by Romain Malejacq

Warlord Survival makes a compelling case that strongmen/warlords are are an integral part of the state, where they help build bureaucratic institutions, reinforce or undermine democratic processes as spoilers and statebuilders. I have utilised Malejacq’s framing of power resources which he employed in relation to warlords’ survival to demonstrate how political networks in post-2001 Afghanistan assemble, strategise, and operationalise diverse power resources to advance their goals. Power resources are essentially the medium through which political actors express and exert their power in different settings.  In my work, Inside Afghanistan, I depart from Malejacq by showing that warlords are one type of political network amongst many other forms of actors including technocratic and family networks. I show how different sources of power produce diverse power resources which actors—in my case, political networks and their associates—can rally and operationalise daily to survive and, by investing in other resources, further strengthen and maintain network clientele.