"More than charting connections between tribes, fanaticism and networks of Islamist militants, it is time to understand the complexity of frontier people’s worlds and their expectations of these."

For many Westerners, the images that arise when thinking of the Afghan-Pakistan frontier are those of fanatical and tribal primitivism, militancy and Islam - typically a Talib with a beard and an AK-47.

On the basis of fifteen years of fieldwork in the region, Marsden seeks to nuance and correct this image, finding that many frontier people are truly more cosmopolitan than they are primitive. Marsden will talk about the relationship between mobility, militancy and trade in the lives of people he knows and has known in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Janis Bjørn Kanavin, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will act as discussant.

The event will be chaired by Kristian Berg Harpviken, PRIO Director.

Magnus Marsden (PhD, Cambridge) is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Since 1995 he has conducted ethnographic research in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, especially in Chitral, Pakistan. His monograph Living Islam: Muslim Religious Experience in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier (Cambridge, 2005), and a series of other publications, explores the ways in which Chitralis set to the task of ‘being Muslim’ in a world of political uncertainty and transformation.