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Title: Deconstructing the official discourse of state formation in Afghanistan
Author: Rahimi, Mujib Rahman
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 5187
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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In the wake of a series of dislocatory events, which were triggered off by the arrival of colonialism in the region, coupled with the political, military and strategic rivalries that then ensued, both of which disrupted the Iranian civilizational sphere, the post-colonial nation-state of Afghanistan was created in 1880, which had the effect empowering the Afghans/Pashtuns. In order to hegemonise the 'floating elements', and thus impose its political project, the new state successfully constructed a Pashtun-ethnocentric exclusionary discourse of its emergence in several stages from 1880 to 1970s around the master signifier of Afghanistan and Afghans, as well as the three intertwined nodal points, which comprised the moment of emergence, the notion of governance through assemblies, and the concept of invasion and resistance. So as to impose its political project on the newly created, yet multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and diverse society of Afghanistan, the fledgling state suppressed and excluded the rival discourses, whilst relying heavily on colonial knowledge. It also invoked a particular rendition of history and religion so as to construct an exclusionary Pashtun-centric ethno-nationalism and to present a distinctive identity, nationally and internationally, which were contained in the master signifier of the official discourse and its interrelated nodal points. Employing the logics and concepts of discourse theory developed by Laclau and Mouffe, and a set of theoretical tools, this thesis argues that the exclusionary official discourse of state formation, as well as the symbolic order it had constructed, has been radically disrupted by the dislocatory events that unfolded in the country after 1970. This crisis and breakdown of the dominant 'regime of truth' propagated by the state, has opened the space for all non-Afghans/Pashtun, e.g. Tajiks, Hazaraz, and Uzbeks to re-emerge, form new modalities of identity, challenge the official discourse, and call for the decolonization and re-writing of the officially sanctioned narrative. On the other hand, the Pashtunists camp, mainly because of their privileged position in the post-Bonn political setup of 2001, employed what I have named logic of difference in order to attempt to suture the rapture and breakdown by returning to the past. The thesis also claims that this crisis of hegemony in the post-dislocation period in Afghanistan has led to a deep and constitutive form of antagonism based on 'friend/enemy' relations, which threatens the stability and continuity of the current political process in the country. So as to render intelligible the Afghan state and society as a post-colonial and diverse political entity; to defuse the radical antagonism in the country, to open the space for a social division in terms other than what I have termed 'friends/enemy ' relations', and to lay the theoretical foundation of regional cooperation, the thesis contextualizes Afghanistan in the wider Iranian civilizational sphere, whilst presenting what it termed the 'civilizational discourse' as an alternative. The latter is claimed carries the potential of transforming the radical manifestations of social antagonism, which currently predominate, into a form of agonistic pluralism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available