Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Vincent Crapanzano

Committee Members

Michael Blim

Murphy Halliburton

Margaret Mills (external reader)

Subject Categories



This dissertation examines four Afghan life stories for prevalent micro-historical perspectives on shared Afghan macro-historical experiences. The introduction explains my background, motivations and objectives for conducting life history research in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005. The first chapter outlines an approach applied to examining life stories that addresses three interrelated questions: first, how the narrator's presentation is related to the memory of the actual events narrated (biographical chronology), second, how a narrative image/s of a person's past is established in relationships to individually significant audience/s (narrative self / audience), and third, how interrelationships between the individual life and the socio-historical context are expressed by troubling or valued dimensions of the past (existential orientation). My examination focuses upon significant historical and interpersonal concerns as they manifest across individual life narratives. Each chapter begins with background on the circumstances of the interview, followed by the interview transcription, and concludes with an extended analysis of the life story. I conclude with ethnographic interpretation of each life story in light of recent Afghan history and speculate about the meanings of violence and the limits of trauma for contemporary understanding of Afghan culture and history.


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