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    Trauma and Care in Research and Engagement on Afghanistan

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    Department of International Relations 75th Anniversary Public Lecture Series

    In August 2021 the Taliban extremist group violently took control of Afghanistan. The ousting of the country’s ruling democratic government precipitated a humanitarian catastrophe, with state institutions nearing collapse, severe restrictions on women’s/girl’s rights, upwards of 300,000 civilians fleeing the country, and the risk of genocide against minorities looming large. In this milieu, Afghan academics in Australia – and their allies, working on and in Afghanistan – mobilised rapidly to (a) raise community awareness of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Afghanistan, with a view to influencing both humanitarian aid access to the needy and the Australian Government to increase refugee intakes, and (b) evacuate vulnerable Afghans ‘at risk’ of Taliban persecution. This included academics, journalists, judges, public intellectuals, civil society activists, and interpreters who had worked for foreign agencies. How has this sustained engagement affected researchers and activists? How do symptoms of intrusion and avoidance manifest for them? This panel unpacks how the severity, complexity, and trauma faced by academics have shaped, and are continuing to shape, their individual (and collective) experiences when coping with distress and their care-informed research and engagement practices.

    Dr Farkhondeh Akbari is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Monash University. Her research focuses on diplomatic actors and peace settlement negotiations with non-state armed groups.

    Dr Niamatullah Ibrahimi is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at La Trobe University. His research interests include political violence, peacebuilding, post-conflict political orders, social movements and contentious politics, nationalism and ethnic politics, and human rights and transitional justice.

    Dr Srinjoy Bose is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. His research covers political order and violence, international intervention, state (trans)formation, democratisation, warlord/rebel governance, and the political economy of statebuilding and peacebuilding in 'fragile' and deeply divided states and societies.

    Prof William Maley is Emeritus Professor in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, at the Australian National University. His research covers issues of modern diplomacy, Afghan politics, and global refugee movements.

    Dr Benjamin Zala 
    is a Senior Lecturer (Fellow) in the Department of International Relations at The Australian National University. His work focuses on the politics of the great powers and the management of nuclear weapons.

    Image credit: Cyclists, 2009, Jim Kelly via Flickr.

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