Mediating transition in Afghanistan, 2001-2004




Hartenberger, Lisa Anne

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This dissertation examines international aid in support of Afghan media from fall 2001 to fall 2004 as a case study to interrogate the notion of “media transition” and its underlying assumptions. It examines how development organizations such as the United Nations, bilateral aid agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, and non-governmental agencies created the institutional structures that define and support the practice of media transition. It analyzes how the nascent Afghan state media institutions and non-governmental organizations dedicated to media reconstruction negotiated and mobilized the discourse of media transition to further their own aims. It also analyzes how changing political considerations, media production and dissemination outlets, and media producers’ own sense of mission affected the production of a series of radio programs designed to promote Afghan political transition. This dissertation argues that democracy should not be treated as a self-evident goal for media transitions, but should be viewed as a discursive process that shares many of the same concerns as development communications, and that mobilizes a transnational public sphere.