Despite vast efforts to build the state, profound political order in rural Afghanistan is maintained by self-governing, customary organizations. Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan explores the rules governing these organizations to explain why they can provide public goods. Instead of withering during decades of conflict, customary authority adapted to become more responsive and deliberative. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and observations from dozens of villages across Afghanistan, and statistical analysis of nationally representative surveys, Jennifer Murtazashvili demonstrates that such authority enhances citizen support for democracy, enabling the rule of law by providing citizens with a bulwark of defence against predatory state officials. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it shows that 'traditional' order does not impede the development of the state because even the most independent minded communities see a need for a central government - but question its effectiveness when it attempts to rule them directly and without substantive consultation.
Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her PhD in Political Science and MA in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her research focuses on state building, public administration, social institutions, and governance in fragile states.
1. Introduction; Part I. The Politics of Customary Governance: 2. The Afghan state in historical perspective; 3. The architecture of village governance; Part II. Customary Governance and Public Goods Provision: 4. The political economy of village governance; 5. Cooperation among communities; Part III. Customary Governance and the State: 6. Customary organizations and support for the state; 7. Federalism, Afghan style; 8. Conclusion.
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