Dr Naysan Adlparvar (Yale University), gives a talk for the Middle East Studies Centre.
Marriage, in Afghanistan, is a highly strategic affair. In most cases, Afghan parents carefully manage who their children marry. This is done to forge alliances and accrue financial benefits. At the same time, marriage also serves to maintain community boundaries - be they familial, religious or ethnic. These boundaries are often stark; with prolonged conflict making interethnic and intersectarian marriage uncommon. Yet, since the US-led intervention in Afghanistan, intergenerational modes of control have begun to falter and marriage patterns have begun to shift.
In the Bamyan Valley - deep in the mountainous Central Highlands of the country - 'escape marriage' or elopement has become increasingly common, as has the retaliatory violence it engenders. A series of high-profile elopement cases, between members of two ethnic communities, have captivated the local media. Hazarah men are 'escaping' with Sayid women; which is being met with mounting violence and growing ethnic tensions. Young women and men in Bamyan are caught between familial/ethnic expectations and their personal desire - backed by Human Rights institutions-to marry those they choose.
Based on extended ethnographic research in Afghanistan’s Bamyan Valley, this lecture will discuss the emerging phenomenon of 'escape marriage' and the underlying mechanisms that foster it. It will do this by exposing the shifting social landscape in Afghanistan and by drawing linkages between the formation of the new Afghan State, the emergence of educational opportunities for women, the action of Human Rights institutions and, ultimately, the changing nature of marriage and elopement. This lecture will explore how and why young Bamyani men and women navigate the treacherous ground between love and lineage.