S06E02: Sha­harzad Akbar on Afghanistan after Democracy 

This episode explores the polit­i­cal mis­takes which pre­vent­ed human rights and the rule of law from tak­ing root in Afghan soci­ety. What under­stand­ings of democ­ra­cy pre­vailed fol­low­ing the U.S. inva­sion and what were the foun­da­tions on which the lead­ers of Afghanistan tried to build a mod­ern repub­lic? Lis­ten to what made Tal­iban resur­gence pos­si­ble, as well as the prospects for a suc­cess­ful pop­u­lar resis­tance to their rule of terror.

Guests fea­tured in this episode:

Sha­harzad Akbar, one of the most promi­nent among the Afghan demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion voic­es in exile. She was born in Afghanistan, lived with her fam­i­ly as a refugee in Pak­istan dur­ing the first Tal­iban regime for some years and she’s the first Afghan woman to earn a post­grad­u­ate degree at Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty in 2011.

She was lat­er Coun­try Direc­tor for the Open Soci­ety Afghanistan, a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion sup­port­ing civ­il soci­ety and media, focus­ing on human rights and peace build­ing. Sha­harzad also worked as Senior Advi­sor to the Afghan Pres­i­dent on high devel­op­ment coun­cils and was Chair of the coun­try’s Inde­pen­dent Human Rights Com­mis­sion, a posi­tion that she held until ear­ly 2022.

In 2021, she was award­ed the Fran­co-Ger­man Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Most recent­ly, she was an Open Soci­ety Net­work Aca­d­e­m­ic Fel­low in Human Rights at Chatham House and is cur­rent­ly at Wolf­son Col­lege, Oxford build­ing a new inter­na­tion­al NGO to sup­port human rights in Afghanistan.


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.