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Between patronage and rebellion: student politics in Afghanistan

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Student politics is an important aspect of politics in most countries and its study is important to understanding the origins, development and future of political parties. Student politics is also relevant to elite formation, because elites often take their first steps in the political arena through student organisations. In Afghanistan today, student politics moves between two poles—patronage and rebellion—and through its study we can catch a glimpse of the future of Afghan politics. Student politics in Afghanistan has not been the object of much scholarly attention, but we know that student politics in the 1960-70s had an important influence on the development of political parties, which in turn shaped Afghanistan’s entry into mass politics in the late 1970-80s. The purpose of this study is therefore multiple: to fill a gap in the horizon of knowledge, to investigate the significance of changes in the student politics of today compared to several decades ago, and finally to detect trends that might give us a hint of the Afghan politics of tomorrow. The research is based on approximately 100 interviews with students and political activists in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Jalalabad, as well as approximately 12 interviews with former student activists of the 1960-70s.

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