We are both diplomats and traders: Afghan transregional traders across the former Soviet Union

Marsden, Magnus (2016) We are both diplomats and traders: Afghan transregional traders across the former Soviet Union. Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, 34 (2). pp. 59-75. ISSN 0305-7674

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Building on fieldwork with Afghan traders in the former Soviet Union, this article uses the idea of diplomacy to explore the skills and capacities that are central to the traders’ self-understandings and working lives. Of central concern is the way in which the traders often identify themselves as being ‘diplomats’. The expressions of the traders’ diplomatic skills take various forms including an ability to speak multiple languages, form intimate personal relationships across the boundaries of religion and ethnicity, and the capacity to lead mobile lives, something itself informed by an intense degree of multi-local familiarity. Being diplomatic also takes a material form in the traders’ lives, especially in their choices of clothing and in the design of their offices. In exploring these different markers of being diplomatic in the context of the activities of a long-distance trade network, it is suggested that anthropology needs to attend not only to the possibilities of using diplomacy as an analytical device, but also as an emic category that invests the lives of particular communities with meaning and significance.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology > GN301 Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF1021 Commercial geography. Economic geography
Depositing User: Magnus Marsden
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2016 12:47
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2018 01:00
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/62016

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