Seyed Ali Hosseini‘s dissertation defence.
This dissertation conceptualizes peacebuilding in Afghanistan (2001-2021) as sociocultural facilitation of
transformation of the country towards accepting the international norms important for sustainable peace, such as democracy, human rights, freedoms, and market economy. Hence, peacebuilding was highly normative and required
enormous changes to transform the Afghanistan politics, society, and culture from traditional society marked by fragmentations and fundamentalism to one that embraced the modern values. In their efforts to transform Afghanistan into a sustainable peace, key peacebuilding actors have promoted these values.
The dissertation proposes that the peacebuilding in post-2001 Afghanistan was hybrid, as the international community pursued the goals of building a state committed to the aforementioned liberal principles as well as strengthening civil society to bring about social and cultural development, all hallmarks of liberal peacebuilding. Simultaneously, the political order, particularly the government titled the Islamic Republic, was seen as representative of the locals and their religion and culture and expected to protect their interests while adhering to international norms. The hybridity of peacebuilding for local society meant addressing social fragmentation and forms of radicalization, as well as assisting Afghan society in its adoption of modern norms and institutions consistent with its own society and culture.
Examining the reasons for and the process of the failure of sociocultural transformation this dissertation, based on qualitative research methodology, proposes that due to the primacy of security interests of powerful international and domestic actors, the internationally led effort to transform Afghanistan was undermined by a series of compromises on shared local and international values that created an environment of irresponsibility and corruption. The securitized neoliberal state-building assisted warlords and corrupt and opportunist elites, starting from the ignorance of transitional justice, and continued with lack of accountability for major human rights violations and corruption in the Afghan government and among other domestic and foreign actors. This environment of irresponsibility undermined the legitimacy of governance and the functioning of institutions, such as electoral institutions, and discredited other state and non-state actors working to transform Afghanistan. As a result, peacebuilding processes were frozen at the level of negativity, increasingly undermining local trust in international actors, their values, and the achievements of social development.
To address the sociocultural dimension of peacebuilding, foreign actors engaged in top-down building of a Western-style civil society, while its function was mostly focused on service delivery and advocacy rather than creating discourses among Afghans on issues critical for transformation of a society affected by decades of conflict and radicalism. The project-oriented approach of civil society groups in their performances combined with their weak local roots and corruption limited their effectiveness. Similarly, instead of creating healthy discourses about issues important for sustainable peace, the growth of free media in an environment of hot conflict, foreign support to medias from various directions, poor regulation and oversight, and weak public cultural institutions only added a cultural dimension to the conflict and furthered confusion over the values. The negativity of peacebuilding prevented the potential of hybrid peacebuilding to address forms of fragmentation and radicalization in Afghan society and hampered meaningful popular engagement in transforming structures of violence toward sustainability. The growing disempowerment and disillusionment of the people, coupled with confusion about norms, enabled the Taliban to frame their brutal campaign as jihad and to make even a negative peace unattainable.
Supervisor: Dr. Alistair Edgar
Committee: Dr. Timothy Donais and Dr. Jasmin Habib
Internal/External: Dr. Dejan Guzina
External: Dr. Benjamin Zyla, University of Ottawa
Chairperson Dr. Tristan Long
There are limited spaces available to attend the defence. Email [email protected] if you would like to attend.
Please note: this defence will take place on the Laurier main campus in the FGPS Defence room.