Afghanistan, Ethnography, and the New World Order

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Essay Excerpt

Anthropologists do not usually - or at least they are not usually thought to - comment on global issues. The anthropological perspective is generally assumed to be a localized one. We are the resident observers of particular places, usually obscure ones, and until recently at least we have been relatively happy with our obscurity. Strange things happen, however. Events move beyond our control, and fieldwork sites that seem to be as remote and insignificant as any on the planet suddenly take on a global significance that forces the most nocturnal of researchers into the light. When I first decided to be an anthropologist, it was basically because I wanted an excuse to go back to Afghanistan to carry out a traditional sort of village study in some mountain community. I had worked for two years as an English teacher in Kabul in the mid-1970s, had fallen in love with the place, and it seemed that anthropology offered a way to spend more time in parts of the country I would otherwise not be able to visit. So, I started graduate school, and in the meantime a revolution happened that changed my plans (345).

Edwards, David B. "Afghanistan, Ethnography, and the New World Order." Cultural Anthropology 9.3(1994): 345–360.

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