Book on opium-power relationship in Afghanistan launched
KABUL (Pajhwok): A book on relationship between opium poppy cultivation and power in Afghanistan was launched in Kabul on Thursday, detailing multiple attempts at banning the illicit plant made over the past two decades.
The new book “A State Built on Sand: How Opium Undermined Afghanistan” was unveiled at a launch at the European Union (EU) on Tuesday and at a press conference at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) on Thursday.
The author, a long-time Afghanistan researcher, David Mansfield provides an in-depth look at the Taliban prohibition as well as subsequent bans in Nangarhar and Helmand.
The book recalls multiple attempts to stop poppy cultivation, usually with mixed results, throughout the “theatre of counter-narcotics” of the previous two decades by various parties including the Taliban at different times.
Often these attempts came in the form of outright bans, including a nearly country-wide one by the Taliban in 2000-2001.
In a statement, AREU said the book was the culmination of extensive experience with the policy community and long term fieldwork in rural Afghanistan, including 11 years of research supported by AREU and the European Union.
The book, published by Hurst, documents the actors involved and scrutinises how prohibition served divergent and competing interests. It also explains how these bans affected farming communities and how prohibition endured in some areas while in others opium production bans undermined livelihoods and destabilised the political order, fuelling violence and rural rebellion.
“Above all, this book challenges how we have come to understand political power in rural Afghanistan. Far from being the passive recipients of acts of violence by state and non-state actors, Mansfield highlights the role that rural communities have played in shaping the political terrain, including establishing the conditions under which they could persist with opium production.”
The book can be bought online, and Dari and Pashto versions are forthcoming and will be available for download on AREU’s website soon. A brief sample of the book, one chapter in English, can be found on AREU’s website.
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