Against the backdrop of four decades of continuous conflict in Afghanistan, the Pashtun male protagonists of this book carry out their daily effort to internally negotiate, adjust (if at all), and respond to the very strict cultural norms and rules of masculinity that their androcentric social environment enjoins on them. Yet, in a widespread context of war, displacement, relocation, and social violence, cultural expectations and stringent tenets on how to comport oneself as a "real man" have a profound impact on the psychological equilibrium and emotional dynamics of these individuals.
Crafting Masculine Selves: Culture, War, and Psychodynamics in Afghanistan
(Oxford UP, 2019) is a close investigation into these private and at times contradictory aspects of subjectivity. Stemming from five years of research in a southeastern province of Afghanistan, it presents a long-term, psychodynamic engagement with a select group of male Pashtun individuals, which results in a multilayered dive not only into their inner lives, but also into the cultural and social environment in which they live and develop. Behind the screen of what often seems like outward conformity, Andrea Chiovenda is able to point to areas of strong inner conflict, ambivalence, and rebellion, which in turn will serve as the seeds for cultural and social change. These dynamics play out in a setting in which what was considered legitimate and justifiable violence on the battlefield has now spilled over into everyday life, even among non-combatants.
Jeffrey Bristol holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Boston University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. He is a lawyer, independent scholar and naval officer based in Tampa, Fl.