Francesca Recchia speaks to Ashley Jackson about her book Negotiating Survival: Civilian–Insurgent Relations in Afghanistan.
Based on over 400 interviews with Taliban and civilians, this book tells the story of how civilians have not only bargained with the Taliban for their survival, but also ultimately influenced the course of the war in Afghanistan. While the Taliban have the power of violence on their side, they nonetheless need civilians to comply with their authority. Both strategically and by necessity, civilians have leveraged this reliance on their obedience in order to influence Taliban behaviour.
Challenging prevailing beliefs about civilians in wartime, Negotiating Survival presents a new model for understanding how civilian agency can shape the conduct of insurgencies.
Ashley Jackson is the co-director of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at the Overseas Development Institute. She has worked on Afghanistan for more than a decade and has published extensively on the Taliban.