Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.
Based on the talk given by our great PhD candidate Noah’s fresh and first-hand participation observation in August, 2009 in Afghanistan!
Villagers get together and decide who they are gonna vote together as a bloc. What the election means to people is a government entry that can reflect the given interests of social divisions and political bloc. Afghan Democracy is not what US citizen would normally assume it should be: A “free and fair” election based on individual will and individual votes. Neither is it about the game between political parties that are to some extent detached from the grassroots society. It is a game for everybody, every lineage and every social divisions that want the state to finally do something for them. Well, because the Afghan state, if there is one, has never done anything . The traditional state/society strata as an overseeing power above/representing people is not working here. Lineages, local leaders, warlords and some influential officials set the terms. Sometimes, the state is just another faction among others, instead of the goal, in the game. What does mean to have a “free and fair” democracy, if the state is not even the dominant political institution? Oh well, I guess it depends how one defines a good form of democracy or a government in a place like Afghan so fragmented and decentralized, or how one interprets whatever is really going on, which need not be measured against the US model of democracy. At the very least, there is no outbreak of violence during the campaign.
It is difficult to define what corruption is, since it is not what it matters or how it works in Afghan — just like people need to decide collectively, and discuss over it–which is also quite participatory and, if you will, democratic, and act as a bloc.
Perhaps it is a lot wiser than just let it go “freely and fairly.”
An informant showed how easy it was to get registered. He got Britney Spears registered. So, Britney could be elected legally in Afghan.
Some women went out to vote, but not all of them. In some of the most conservative areas, a man could claim 20 votes to represent “his women.” Polling stations, like other social spaces, are sexually segregated. But in some parts of Kabul, there are female candidates, and they always win, if with strong political background.