Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars
Tobias Marschall

The Image of Remoteness: Mobility and Alterity in Eastern Afghanistan

Tobias Marschall, Geneva Graduate Institute
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Room S5, Maison de la paix, Geneva Graduate Institute

The Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars series is co-organized by the Anthropology and Sociology and International History and Politics Departments at the Institute to discuss global questions from historically and ethnographically-informed perspectives.

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My PhD thesis asks how to contend with the image and notion of an ultimate frontier. More than a century of military, scientific, adventure, scholarship, documentary and tourism, more recently, shaped the dominant perception of Eastern Afghanistan as exceptionally remote. In this framework, the Afghan Pamirs and their inhabitants stand as if out of time, because visibly out-of-the-way. The image of endangered Kyrgyz nomads trapped in place and time by modernity’s vicissitudes is not just source of local fame and legend. Rooted into global frontier imaginaries, the image extends beyond. Through the study of three central movements of daily life in the Afghan Pamirs – borderland trade, pastoral rhythms and migration events – I follow the mobilisation effects of this particular image of remoteness and the power relations it translates.


About the Speaker

Tobias Marschall is a visual anthropologist. His thesis considers how an image of remoteness is refracted along migration routes in eastern Afghanistan. Between 2015 and 2019, he grounded his visual ethnography in walking paths of the Afghan Pamirs, in attending migrants’ Central Asian nodes and in participating to their online extension. He published on endangerment, remoteness and infrastructure in three refereed papers. Besides academic activities, he co-produces a feature-length documentary film on tourism, regularly answers queries on the humanitarian situation in Eastern Afghanistan and conducted two mandated studies on the costs of war and the impact of German official development assistance in Afghanistan.


The Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars is a regular series of discussions co-organized by the International History and Politics and Anthropology and Sociology Departments at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies to discuss a variety of global questions from a multiplicity of historically and ethnographically-informed perspectives.

The Seminars take place every Tuesday from 16:15 to 18:00 in Seminar Room 5 (S5) at the Graduate Institute (Maison de la Paix), and are followed by an Apero open to the attending public. Connect to this week's seminar online using the event password WHqXFgUD338.