Eurasian Enigma: Conflict and Ideology in Cold War Afghanistan with Timothy Nunan

Infant ward in a Kabul hospital in the 1960s

Infant ward in a Kabul hospital in the 1960s. Wikimedia Commons

Friday, October 7, 2016

Historian Timothy Nunan takes us to Cold War Afghanistan—where Soviet and European rivalry played out not through tanks and guns, but through opposing ideas about international development and humanitarian aid.

Timothy Nunan is a scholar of international and global history. His work focuses on the history of Russia and Eurasia–Central Asia, Iran, and Afghanistan–in an international context. After receiving a D.Phil. in History at Oxford, he began as a Harvard Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. While at Harvard in 2013-2014, he wrote Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan. The book examines the history of international development and humanitarianism in Afghanistan from roughly the beginning of the Cold War through to the rise of the Taliban. Based on archival research in several languages and dozens of interviews, Humanitarian Invasion follows the American hydrologists, German foresters, Soviet gas engineers, French doctors, and Swedish NGO activists who contested the transformation of the Afghan state from the mid-1950s to the early 1990s. Beyond his academic activities, Timothy is the Executive Director of the Toynbee Prize Foundation, where he runs the Global History Forum, interviewing other historians on global and international history.

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The Eurasian Enigma, the Davis Center's podcast, features informal and informative conversations about the region that intrigues us so much. Give us 20 minutes and we’ll give you a chance to learn from the experts—from energy policy to cyber surveillance, from arts and literature to contemporary journalism. Subscribe on iTunesTuneInSoundcloud, or Stitcher, and don't miss an episode!