Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Delhi Branch Office



Workshop on Agenda for Social Science Research in Afghanistan
24th April 2014, 2:00 to 5:00 pm
Academy of International Studies
Jamia Millia Islamia

As we come closer to the end of 2014 the deadline for the withdrawal of NATO/ISAF forces from Afghanistan, its time to take stock of the many transitions that Afghanistan is undergoing. For doing so, the Academy of International Studies of Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) in New Delhi and the South Asia Institute (SAI) of Heidelberg University’s New Delhi Office have partnered to set a Workshop on “Agenda for Social Science Research in Afghanistan”. The Workshop  has held on the premises of JMI, on April 24th. The half-day event was chaired by His Excellencey Prof. TCA Rangachari and attended by invited scholars from universities, think tanks and political foundations across New Delhi and elsewhere in India. Among those, 12 presented their current research, and outlined their ideas about future social science research.

Participants from Delhi and elsewhere at JMI

Significant political and social changes have occurred during the course of the thirteen years war on terrorism. An important milestone has been crossed with the successful holding of the Presidential elections on 5th April. The massive turnout has significant implications for the future stability of Afghanistan which needs to be analysed and understood. This vital phase is being critical monitored not only by Western countries, but also by her neighbours in the South Asian region. While so far, the vast body of analyses on the country had focused on security, It is equally important, we would argue, to refocus our attention to these challenges emanating as a result of the many transitions taking place in Afghanistan. Understanding and conceptualising these changes, is going to be an endeavour of utmost significance, not only for scholars from and in Afghanistan, but also for the entire region, and worldwide. 

Thus, scholars from India as well as other countries can and should decisively contribute to enhance and strengthen social science research and to widen the thematic angle from security studies to a more comprehensive approach by addressing key issues of political, economic and social changes in the country. This workshop has aimed at bringing together scholars from social sciences, based in New Delhi and elsewhere in India, with an interest in and commitment to contributing to such studies. One of the objectives was to set up a forum for research and policy debate to address the core issues of social and political changes in Afghanistan. First of all, this has (and continue to)  included a stock taking exercise about different studies that have been carried out over the past years, both in terms of thematic areas as well as research methodologies applied. Secondly, the workshop has  focused on identifying core thematic areas that need to be addressed in order to contribute to a better understanding of the political and social changes that are in motion now in the country and their implications. These include studies on social and economic, as well as political change. Thirdly, this workshop also aimed at setting up a network of scholars who share a common interest and expertise in this field, and to identify future research projects, and explore funding opportunities.

By having organised this workshop, we intended to make a significant contribution to link different research projects in an area that is critically important for development and peace in a politically and socially volatile region. Overall, we aim at promoting Afghan studies as a key re­search area, not only for (South) Asia, but also for other parts of the world. 

The presentations by scholars (and students) from Delhi and elsewhere in India, included papers on several crucial fields of social sciences, such as changes in Human Development and the Social Sectors, Gender and Human Security, core institutions such as the Loya Jirga and the National Police, and the Taliban. Other contributions focussed on economic changes, small development projects. In addition, contributions on  “What holds Afghanistan together” and “Expectations and Limitations of Rebuilding the State” set the tone for the following lively discussions (for details see programme)
Posted on 28 Apr 2014
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