Soldiers in a foreign land. The experiences of Tajik soldiers of the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989)

Date: 30 May 2013
Location: UCA Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Speaker: Markus Göransson
Date: 30 May 2013, 4 PM
Venue: Conference Room 310, University of Central Asia, 47a Druzhba Narodov, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Over half a million Soviet citizens took part in the Soviet-Afghan War, lasting from 1979 until 1989. Of these more than fifteen thousand came from the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic. Many of these Tajik soldiers played an outsize role in the war as translators and as soldiers better accustomed to the cultural and climatic realities of Afghanistan than their northern Slavic brethren. Moreover, the Tajik fighters shared considerable cultural and linguistic similarities with many Afghans, giving them a particular position in the conflict. How did Tajik soldiers experience this war that caused death and destruction among people so similar to themselves? Is there truth to the claim often floated in the West during the Cold War that the Afghan War led to a political and even religious awakening among Central Asians? So far, the story of the Tajik veterans of the Afghan War has remained largely untold. Based on documentary research and interviews with more than thirty veterans, this presentation hopes to paint part of the picture of how the Tajik servicemen lived the Afghan conflict.

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Markus Göransson is a Swedish researcher writing his PhD about Tajik soldiers of the Soviet-Afghan War at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom. A Junior Research Fellow at the University of Central Asia, he is currently undertaking fieldwork in Tajikistan, consulting archives and interviewing Afghan war veterans. Two months into a six-month stay, he will relate some of the findings that he has made to date, even as much research remains to be done! 

The presentation will be conducted in English.

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