Lecture Series LXXXVI—Noah Coburn:’Contracting and the Repercussions of Neo-Liberal Warfare in Nepal and Beyond’

22 February 2016

Noah Coburn
on
Contracting and the Repercussions of Neo-Liberal Warfare in Nepal and Beyondlecture_lxxxvi
Oftentimes labelled ‘a small war’, accounts of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan usually describe it as a local insurgency opposed to an American presence. Despite this, the conflict has been a truly global affair, with 42 different NATO coalition country members and countless others involved, primarily as contractors. The story of the soldiers in the conflict has been the focus of media attention while very little has considered the wider consequences of the war. This talk presents some preliminary ethnographic data that focuses on private contractors, particularly from Nepal. It asks, how has the conflict reshaped socio-economics in far-flung places like Nepal and the Republic of Georgia? How did those involved experience the conflict? How has it reshaped views of America and the international system more generally? How should we understand the ripples of this conflict? Based on approximately 170 interviews from Nepal and elsewhere, this lecture will discuss some of the initial findings from this ethnographic project.

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Noah Coburn is a Fulbright Fellow and political anthropologist at Noah Coburn is a Fulbright Fellow and political anthropologist at Bennington College who focuses on local political structures, violence and international intervention. He has spent over five years conducting research in Afghanistan and is author of Bazaar Politics: Power and Pottery in an Afghan Market Town,Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape and Losing Afghanistan: An Obituary for the Intervention. He has also worked for the United States Institute of Peace, the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit and several other think tanks. He received his PhD in anthropology from Boston University in 2010 and in 2015-2016 he conducted interviews with contractors involved in the Afghan war from Nepal, India, Turkey, the UK and the Republic of Georgia.