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The Boundaries of Afghans’ Political Imagination

The Normative-Axiological Aspects of Afghan Tradition

Author(s): Jolanta Sierakowska-Dyndo

Book Description

In this book, The Boundaries of Afghans’ Political Imagination, the author seeks an answer to the question of how tradition, specifically its normative-axiological aspects, shapes the political attitudes and actions of the Afghans. The author points to two different concepts of social order which are moulded by the Pashtunwali: on the one hand, a tribal code which is part of Pashto language tradition; and on the other hand, by Sufism, the religious and philosophical current in Islam expressed mainly in the Dari (Persian) language. The two systems offer a different hierarchy of values, and organize social reality by referring to two different models of order: the circle and the pyramid.

While making an in-depth analysis of the topic, the author asserts that the social organization of the Pashtuns is based on the principle of representation and consensus. Tribalism is shaped in the structure of a circle, in which a group is the fundamental category. Where tribal structure no longer performs its regulatory and organizational functions, the pattern of social order is offered by the Sufi Brotherhoods, which had long been very popular and powerful in this part of Asia. The hierarchical organization of Sufism, based on a disciple-master relationship and the principle of authoritarianism, gradually established the structure of the pyramid as a model of social order, and also of political order. Religious Sufi Brotherhoods became the most accessible leadership pattern, besides the tribal one, to be fixed in the Afghans’ social imagination.

This analysis from the perspective of sociocultural and political anthropology will be indispensable for those interested in Afghan and Islamic societies.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-4229-7
ISBN-10: 1-4438-4229-X
Date of Publication: 01/01/2013
Pages / Size: 215 / A5
Price: £44.99


Jolanta Sierakowska-Dyndo is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Warsaw. She specializes in Afghan and Iranian studies, mainly in the modern history and sociocultural problems of these countries. She has studied at Kabul University in Afghanistan and has stayed in Iran many times, working on the theme of Polish-Persian relations. She is the author of Afganistan – narodziny Republiki (Afghanistan – The Birth of the Republic; Warsaw: Academic Press DIALOG, 2002).