Political Economy of the Taliban Honors Thesis

(2010). Political Economy of the Taliban .


  • Rahman, Umer

honors thesis advisor


  • The word ‘Taliban’ has become synonymous with terrorism in wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11. This study challenges the genealogies behind the word and how it has transformed itself and its meaning in discourse. The past and present usage of the term will be analyzed in the context of the local Afghan political economy and the effects and purpose of US military intervention. The origins of the term will be traced to the destruction of the Afghan economy after the defeat of the Soviets. The study will further try to understand the security failures of the Afghan state during the contemporary period of US military intervention and how such failures have contributed to a remobilization of the Taliban as a group of diverse political movements while goals relate to their particular historical, geographical, economic and strategic position with the context of different Afghanistan villages and provinces. The analytical framework of this study will be the local political economy of the Afghan village. Village cultures have helped to shape the historical and contemporary political orientation of the Taliban. Gramsci’s theory of ‘cultural hegemony’ will be employed to examine the growth of the Taliban in the context of the economic collapse of villages, which the Taliban has used to strengthen its position within Afghan village communities. Gramsci’s theory is also useful for examining and critiquing the hegemonic and cultural biases of the US occupying army. The escalation of the US backed war in Afghanistan has coincided with a return of the Taliban to positions of influence and power, largely by intensifying the destruction and threats to many of the fragile security networks that exist within the Afghan village. The study will conclude with formal analysis and projection of the future of Afghanistan and how US foreign policy will influence the region in whole.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010