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People and Places

People and Places

Chapter:
(p.17) Chapter One People and Places
Source:
Afghanistan
Author(s):
Thomas Barfield
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691145686.003.0002

This chapter provides a basic outline of Afghanistan's land and peoples. It describes how the various tribal and ethnic groups of Afghanistan work, because they have all played key roles in Afghanistan's history and remain vital in understanding current events there. Furthermore, this chapter introduces what Afghans themselves take for granted: their geography, religion, subsistence economy, and architecture, along with the persistent aspects of social organization in which they ground their lives. Finally, the chapter applies ibn Khaldun's classic model of Middle Eastern political organization to Afghanistan, arguing that, far from participating in a single political sphere, Afghanistan has always been two worlds, interacting but unintegrated. Its contrasting patterns of subsistence, social organization, and regional political structures underlie long-standing ethnic and tribal divisions, constituting elements of material life and social organization that have persisted for centuries, even millennia, and setting the framework for daily life as it is ordinarily lived.

Keywords:   Middle Eastern political organization, ibn Khaldun, Afghanistan, Afghan people, social organization, ethnic division, regional political structures, material life, Afghan daily life

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