SOAS University of London

Professor Jonathan Goodhand Inaugural Lecture - Straddling the Line: Brokerage, drugs and conflict in the Afghan borderlands

Professor Jonathan Goodhand Inaugural Lecture - Straddling the Line: Brokerage, drugs and conflict in the Afghan borderlands

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Jonathan Goodhand
Professor Jonathan Goodhand

Date: 9 December 2015Time: 6:30 PM

Finishes: 9 December 2015Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Inaugural Lecture

How can we understand the dynamics of change in borderland regions?  Are they best understood as ‘troublesome’ zones, that export insecurity, illegal commodities and migrants, or are they ‘lagging’ regions that have been ‘left behind’?  An alternative perspective is to view them as zones of opportunity, laboratories of rapid political and economic change, central to which are the dynamics of brokerage; traders, government officials, local communities, border guards, all simultaneously subvert and exploit the borderline.

These dynamics are explored in the Afghan-Tajik borderlands. Here protracted conflict and the growth of the drug economy have transformed the borderlands; far from being ‘marginal’, the borderlands have become central sites of accumulation and contested statebuilding. Increasingly political and economic processes in the hinterlands have reshaped power and authority at the putative centre.

The role played by trading and political networks that emerged in wartime is examined, and specifically how borderlands brokers have influenced post war political settlements and relationships linking national capitals with the border regions and beyond. International policies including democracy promotion, counter narcotics and border management have unpredictable and perverse effects on (dis)order and development in the borderlands.

Jonathan Goodhand joined the Development Studies Department at SOAS in 2001 after working for several years as an aid worker in South and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. His research focuses on the dynamics of violent conflict, war economies, war to peace transitions and the role of international aid. In recent years he has focused increasingly on questions related to conflict, borders and borderlands, including an ESRC funded project on post war transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka, and a joint SOAS-University of Melbourne programme on frontiers, states and conflict in South East Asia. In 2014 he took up a half time Chair in International Development at the University of Melbourne

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Professor Jonathan Goodhand Inaugural Lecture: Straddling the Line: Brokerage, drugs and conflict in the Afghan borderlands

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