Jammal Lecture

Thomas Barfield

Professor of Anthropology, Boston University | President, American Institute for Afghanistan Studies (USA>Afghanistan> China>Uzbekistan>

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
6 pm - 7:30 pm
Hayes Hall 403

Thomas Barfield

Join us for a talk with social anthropologist Thomas Barfield: "Afghanistan's new urban growth and its consequences in Kabul and beyond."

For most of its history Afghanistan has been a land with a overwhelmingly rural population with Kabul as a small but dominant center.  In the past fifteen years the country has experienced massive urban growth in Kabul from a half million to 4.5 million people and the reemergence of major regional cities in Herat and Mazar-i-sherif that now seek autonomy. Of all of Afghanistan's many problems and changes, the consequences of this steadily expanding urban population for the country's economic development, politics and security has been the least explored yet will have the greatest impact on the county's future.  

More about Thomas Barfield

Thomas Barfield is a social anthropologist who conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork among pastoral nomads in pre-war northern Afghanistan during the mid 1970s.  He later conducted shorter periods of research in Xinjiang, China, and post-Soviet Central Asia.

Barfield took his graduate training in anthropology at Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. in 1978 and went on to teach at Wellesley, Harvard and Boston University.  He is author of The Central Asian Arabs of Afghanistan(1981), The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China (1989) and Afghanistan: An Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture (1991) and was executive editor of The dictionary of anthropology (1997).

Since 2001 his research has returned to Afghanistan, focusing on problems economic and political development there, particularly on law, government organization and development issues. In 2006, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete Afghanistan: A cultural and political history(2010), a book received an outstanding title award by the American Library Association in 2011 and remains a best seller on Amazon books.  

Barfield currently serves Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Boston University and has been President of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies since 2005.  His most recent project was as co-curator of Splendours of Medieval Timurid Art in Afghanistan, an exhibition that opened in Herât Castle in December 2017.