Afghanistan The Making and Unmaking of a Modern State

Main Article Content

Jawied Nawabi
Peter Kolozi


After nearly twenty years of occupation and reconstruction, Afghanistan lacks a modern state. The dominant discourse absolves failures in the neoliberal approach to nation-building attributing Afghanistan’s weak state to its inherent tribalism, a culture of corruption, and a historical absence of modern state institutions. Contrary to the dominant discourse, this paper provides a history of Afghan state formation and political modernization in the twentieth century. Afghanistan’s modernization was internally contested, but by the 1970s the country had the
features of a modern, secular state. It has been foreign intervention over the last forty years, in support of anti-modern, reactionary forces, that unmade the modern Afghan state. The neoliberal approach post-9/11, adopting the language of good governance and capacity-building, has made Afghanistan perpetually dependent on foreign assistance, rendering it a phantom state while erasing its history and undermining the political and institutional structures for a united, independent, and peaceful Afghanistan.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Jawied Nawabi, City University of New York

Jawied Nawabi is assistant professor of sociology, economics, and international studies at City University
of New York

Peter Kolozi, City University of New York

Peter Kolozi is professor of political science at City University of New York