Crossing Boundaries: Merging Eurasian Insights with the Study of Afghanistan

THE EURASIA PROGRAM of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Central Asia Program at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University, held the field development workshop "Crossing Boundaries: Merging Eurasian Insights with the Study of Afghanistan", on the GWU campus November 1-4, 2012.


Targeting graduate students and young scholars, this workshop explored the still relatively unknown political, social, economic, and cultural interactions between Eurasia and Afghanistan, in particular, possible linkages between studies of Afghanistan and the Central Asian regions of Eurasia.

In July of 2012, the international community pledged $16 billion in aid over the next three years to assist with reconstruction and stabilization in Afghanistan. Persistent civil unrest, interethnic hostilities, a collapsed economic system, and corruption raise serious questions concerning Afghan stability and security. Can studies of social, cultural, and political change in Central Asia inform our understanding of the challenges facing Afghanistan over the coming decade? How might an improved understanding of sociopolitical change in Afghanistan contribute to our understanding of Eurasia generally and Central Asia specifically?

“Crossing Boundaries” convened junior scholars interested in exploring the linkages between Central Asia and Afghanistan for an intensive workshop led by a group of interdisciplinary senior scholars. We welcomed scholars with a specific research focus on Eurasia with an interest in exploring the broader implications of their research in relation to Afghanistan, and scholars working on themes that cut across Afghanistan and Eurasia. The meeting provided opportunities to discuss current work, develop ideas for future projects, and solicit feedback from, and network with, fellow scholars interested in merging the study of Eurasia with that of Afghanistan. Professionalization sessions covering data availability, publishing strategies, grant writing, and navigating the job market were also included.


  • Cynthia Buckley, University of Illinois/SSRC (Sociology)
  • Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University (Director, Central Asia Program)
  • Eric McGlinchey, George Mason (Government and Politics)
  • Sebastien Peyrouse, George Washington University (Central Asia Program)
  • Nazif Shahrani, Indiana University (Anthropology)


  • James Bradford, Northeastern University (History), “Opium in Afghanistan during the Musahiban Dynasty, 1929-1978”
  • Ned Conway, University of St. Andrews (International Relations), "Mining in Afghanistan: Drawing on the Experiences of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan"
  • Solaiman Fazel, Indiana University (Anthropology), "State and Minorities in Afghanistan: Ethnography of Qizilbashs: Bureaucratic Racism, Structural Marginalization, and Politics of Underdevelopment and Poverty"
  • Kramer Gillin, University of Wisconsin- Madison (Geography), "Land Administration & Foreign Investment in Tajikistan and Afghanistan / Conflict Over Pasture Access in Afghanistan: Justifications & Responses"
  • Rebecca Gould, Yale-NUS College (Literature), "Terrorizing Power: Sufi Resistance in the Caucasus"
  • Margaret Hanson, Ohio State University (Political Science), "The Politics of Property in the Soviet Union: Building Capitalism in the Countryside?"
  • Artemy Kalinovsky, University of Amsterdam (East European Studies), "Modernization in a Forgotten Corner: Development in Soviet Tajikistan"
  • Khalid Nadiri, Johns Hopkins SAIS (International and Comparative Politics), "Explaining State Capacity in Fragmented Societies: Late State Building and Social Order in Afghanistan"
  • Shahnoza Nozimova, George Mason University (Public and International Affairs), "The Destabilizing Consequences of the NATO Troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan in Tajikistan"
  • Wazhmah Osman, New York University (Media, Culture, and Communications), "Between a Rock and a Cave: The Uneven Development of the Afghan Public Sphere"
  • Fatima Sartbaeva, University of Wisconsin- Madison (Anthropology), "How Do Veiling and Prayer Affect Sufi Shamanic Faith of Kazakhs and Kyrgyz?"
  • Paul Zachary, George Washington University (Political Science), "Rebel on Rebel Killing: Explaining Violence in the Anti-State Movement"

Should you have any questions, please contact Denise Mishiwiec, Eurasia Program Coordinator.

Financial support for the workshop is provided through the Title VIII Program, which is administered by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the US Department of State, providing funding for research and language training to American scholars and students for the study of Eastern Europe and Eurasia (Independent States of the Former Soviet Union). Title VIII maintains US expertise in the regions and brings open source, policy-relevant research to the service of the US Government.