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The Institutional Incompleteness of Empire

By Paolo Novak


Afghanistan's territory and populations have long been crucial nodes for the assertion of regional and global projects of domination. In order to gain analytical insight into the identity and dispositions of such projects, the paper studies one significant episode of intervention over Afghan populations: the three-decade long protection and assistance practices in support of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The paper has three objectives. First, it highlights the enabling aspects of Afghan refugee movement, that is, as constitutive and generative of complex politico-institutional orders and of social hierarchies, at a variety of scales. Second, it locates the analytical understanding of such orders and hierarchies within academic narratives that postulate a relation between refugee interventions and imperial politico-institutional orders. Third, it challenges some of the analytical tenets of such narratives by foregrounding the incompleteness and overlap of such institutional orders. On these bases, the article offers a nuanced and contextualized understanding of ‘imperial order’ as a form of rule that is premised on the continuous attempt to establish hierarchies out of a context of institutional disorder

Topics: 8540, 3500
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Provided by: SOAS Research Online
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