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I am an inter-/trans-disciplinary researcher with a regional focus on Afghanistan and with experience of working in-between academic and policy research. Supported by Prof. Dr. Guido Sprenger, I have joined the Institute of Anthropology as a visiting researcher (September 2021-August 2023) under the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In my current research, I focus on the situation of higher education in Afghanistan following the Taleban takeover in mid-August 2021, including from an academic freedom perspective. I also look at higher education in Afghanistan historically.


I have studied social anthropology at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University. I was a member of the junior research group “Demographic Turn in the Junction of Cultures” led by PD Dr. Sophie Roche. I wrote a PhD thesis on narratives and practices in an Afghan family that has transnationalised during the last quarter of a century. Prior to this, I studied Central Asian politics and security at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. There, I wrote a master thesis on Afghanistan’s protracted war and various (failed) efforts to resolve it through an inclusive negotiated settlement over time. In addition, I have a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, psychology and journalism at the Acharya Institute of Graduate Studies, affiliated to Bangalore University, Bangalore, India.


I have lived, studied, worked or conducted fieldwork in Afghanistan and its neighbouring and immediate region (India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan). In particular, I did my internship in and have, for several years, worked as a researcher with the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent and nonprofit policy research organisation, in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul and western city of Herat.

Contact: kazemi@eth.uni-heidelberg.de


Research Interests

* Higher education

* Migration and transnational family

* Political contestation

* Cultural heritage

* Other (for example, Afghanistan-Central Asia relations)


Academic theses

Narrating and Practicing Family: An Ethnography of an Afghan Transnational Family, PhD thesis, Heidelberg University.

Peace and Power-Sharing Accords on Afghanistan: An Analysis and Implications for Ongoing Peace Efforts, MA thesis, OSCE Academy in Bishkek.

Book chapters (peer-reviewed)

2022 (forthcoming)

“The Money of Home: Remittances and the Remaking of an Afghan Transnational Family,” in Madeleine
Reeves and Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (eds.), Central Asian World, Routledge.

“Global Familyhood and Global Family Communication: Cases from Afghanistan,” in Sophie Roche (ed.),
The Family in Central Asia: New Perspectives, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, pp. 216-241.

Journal articles (peer-reviewed)

With Sophie Roche and Swetlana Torno, “Family Matters: The Making and Remaking of Family during
Conflict Periods in Central Asia
,” Acta Via Serica 5(1): pp. 153-186.

“Talking About and Doing Elections: The Shaping of a Local Electoral Field in Western Afghanistan,”
Central Asian Affairs 5(2): pp. 160-176.

“Afghanistan und Zentralasien,” WeltTrends, Potsdam, pp. 61-69.

Thematic Report, Conference Paper and Policy Brief

With Christian Bleuer, Between Co-operation and Insulation: Afghanistan’s Relations with the Central
Asian Republics
, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), Kabul.

Afghanistan and the Central Asian States: Reflections on the Evolving Relations after 2014,” in ISAF’s
Withdrawal from Afghanistan – Central Asian Perspectives on Regional Security, Johan Norberg and
Erika Holmquist (eds.), Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), pp. 75-84.

Afghanistan’s Transition towards 2014: Implications for Central Asia,” Geneva Centre for Security Policy
(GCSP) and OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Central Asia Security Policy Brief 12.

Research reports

• With Kate Clark, “Who Gets to Go to School? The Taleban and education through time,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “‘A Future of One’s Own’: One young woman’s struggle to thrive in modern Herat,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “At the Turn of a Century: A rare chance to discover Nawruz in history and in Afghanistan,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “Playful Pastimes and Much More: Seven folk games from Afghanistan,” AAN, Kabul, available

• “A Sufi Lodge, a Leaning Minaret and a Polymath’s Shrine: A look at recent efforts to preserve –
and appreciate – historical Herat,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “‘Eat and Don’t Die’: Daily-wage labour as a window into Afghan society,” AAN, Kabul, available

• “Covid-19 in Afghanistan (5): Snapshots of women’s living under coronavirus in and around
Herat city,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• With Fazl Rahman Muzhary, “Covid-19 in Afghanistan (4): A precarious interplay between war
and epidemic,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Covid-19 in Afghanistan (3): Distributing aid and changing aid politics – view from a Herati
village,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Herat City’s Reported Spike in Insecurity: What a sober reading of events reveals,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “Covid-19 in Afghanistan (2): Herat city between disregard and compliance,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “Disputed Casualties in Kushk: The cost of blurring lines between fighters and civilians,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “Placating Ghor, For Now: 10-days protest pushed the government to respond,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• With AAN team, “‘Our Lives Changed’: Afghans remember the coming of the Soviet troops,”
AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Peace in the Districts (2): Prospects, approaches and an emphasis on ‘good peace’,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “Peace in the Districts (1): A chasm between high talks and local concerns in Afghanistan,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “Afghanistan’s 2019 Election (14): In Herat, power and comms failure, district insecurity and low
turnout,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Afghanistan’s 2019 Election (8): Greater insecurity, fewer votes and pre-election politics in
Herat,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Symbolism of a Day: A century of changing independence day celebrations in Afghanistan,”
AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “A Kaleidoscopic Heritage: New efforts to promote Afghan traditions of art and culture,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “One Land, Two Rules (4): Delivering public services in embattled Achin district in Nangarhar
province,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Speculation Abounding: Trying to make sense of the attacks against Shias in Herat city,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “The 2018 Election Observed (6) in Herat: Insecurity, organisational shambles and alleged
rigging,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “One Land, Two Rules (2): Delivering public services in insurgency-affected Obeh district of
Herat province,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Afghanistan’s Elections Conundrum (18): A lively election campaign amid growing insecurity in
Herat,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Blue Gold: The quest for household water in Kabul city,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “The Battle between Law and Force: Scattered political power and deteriorating security test
Herat’s dynamism,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Afghan Exodus: Maruf’s tale of an emerging transnational community between Herat and
Europe,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Raftan, Raftan: How young Afghans from Herat end up in the Syrian war,” AAN, Kabul, available

• “More bilateral than multilateral effects: The Afghanistan conference in China,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “On the Road through Beijing (and Kathmandu): The new Afghan leadership’s attempts to
engage with Asia,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “The New Gangs of Herat: How young Afghans turn away from their community,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “Will the ‘Heart of Asia’ start beating? A review of the regional co-operation process,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “Memorials and Patrons: How northern Afghan elites try to own history,” AAN, Kabul, available

• “Dividing the Field: Who shapes the electoral landscape in a Herat township – and how?,” AAN,
Kabul, available here.

• “Money, Jobs and Mutton Soup: Pre-election discourses in a Herat township,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “Little Leagues, Great Hopes: Afghan grassroots football kicks off,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Over-promising, Under-delivering: The Outcome of the Afghanistan Conference in Kazakhstan,”
AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Afghanistan Conference in Kazakhstan: Will the ‘Heart of Asia’ Start Throbbing?,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “Afghanistan and the OSCE,” Security Community, Issue 3, 2013, p. 37.

• “Foregrounding human security in Afghanistan,” Security Community, Issue 4, 2013, p. 16.

• “The ‘Afghanistan 1400’ Movement: Changing Youth Politics in Afghanistan?,” AAN, Kabul,
available here.

• “A Potential Afghan Spill-Over: How Real Are Central Asian Fears?,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “On the Roof of the World: The Last Kyrgyz in Afghanistan,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Afghans in Kyrgyzstan: Fleeing Home and Facing New Uncertainty,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Karzai’s Decree to Combat Corruption: Cause for Cautious Optimism?,” AAN, Kabul, available

• “Kabuli Youth in Ramazan Nights: A Passion for Futsal and More,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “The Challenge of Effectiveness: ‘Pro-Peace’ Ulama in Afghanistan,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Split Unity: Afghanistan’s Controversial Youth Peace Jirga,” AAN, Kabul, available here.

• “Upcoming Regional Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan: A Primer,” AAN, Kabul, available

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Latest Revision: 2022-11-21
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