For most people, geopolitics is something that happens out there, in boardrooms and on battlefields. But critical geographers, and feminist political geographers in particular, have in recent years shown how the geopolitical is something that comes into being in the intimate and the everyday. Enter Jennifer Fluri
and Rachel Lehr
's 2017 book, The Carpetbaggers of Kabul and Other American-Afghan Entanglements: Intimate Development, Geopolitics, and the Currency of Gender and Grief
(University of Georgia Press, 2017). The Carpetbaggers of Kabul
takes us on the ground with more than a decade of ethnographic research, and offers a critical perspective that highlights the ways in which post-conflict development works to further American power and not, necessarily, respond to the people it should be accountable to. In documenting the coercive power of white saviors, they show how the discourses of geopolitics have real, material effects for people on the ground. At the same time, they show how development projects initiated and run by communities need not (necessarily) fall into those same neo-colonial logics. In our conversation, we talk about what it’s like to do research in Afghanistan, the way gender and grief become a currency for development organizations, and the ways ordinary people fight back against becoming objectified as poor and in need of help.
Dino Kadich is a graduate student in geography at the University of Cambridge. You can follow him on Twitter @dinokadich