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(non) academic (non) analysis…

April 9, 2013

By Tim Foxley

Summary: My very subjective “back of a notepad” survey of 300 academic papers of Afghanistan…

Photos of Afghan maps 006This is just a scrap of a piece of food thought that has been sitting around on my desk staring at me, so I thought I would throw it in here.  I am researching a Master’s degree paper on the direction the Afghan civil war might take after 2014.  So (much) more of that later, I’m sure.  As a part of a review of literature that I undertook for this work, but mainly out of curiousity, I did a google search of scholarly papers using the title “Afghanistan” and then lightly analysed the results of the first 300 hits.  The caveats are therefore that this is of course an extremely thin sliver of the work that has been written overall, is not a rigorous “scientific” survey in any way and is probably more about the systems by which Google select information.  I arbitrarily divided it into two main groups – “Historic”, which I defined as pre-2001 and “current” (2001 and onwards).

So I found that 171 reports were “current” ie post-2001 and, of these:

  • 10 were about fighting the war in Afghanistan
  • 20 were about reconstruction
  • 7 were about narcotics
  • most strikingly, 42 were medical – the overwhelming majority of which were either PTSD or head injury-related papers
  • only ten, by my own very subjective definition, were about “the future”

I’ve got no other significant comment, other than it would be perhaps an interesting analytical exercise in itself to study and trace the clusters of what I might call “solution literature” (narcotics, disarming warlords, arming warlords, COIN, elections, local government, central government, PRTs…).  The themes that rose and fell in popularity over the post-2001 period as ideas were tried, failed, forgotten about, remembered and retried by other groups in many combinations.

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