Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State, by Nick Cullather


American ventures into "troubled" areas of the world often are linked to visions of economic development and political stability, as Nick Cullather observes in our September 2002 feature article. Decades before the turmoil unleashed by the attacks of September 11, 2001, a succession of American administrations became caught up in development schemes in Afghanistan, including a massive dam-building project modeled on the Tennessee Valley Authority. In this installment of "Teaching the JAH," Nick Cullather uses his article as a threshold for thinking not only about Afghanistan, but also about the dreams of modernity that underlie visions of national development.

Sections Guide

You may use the "Sections" menu on the right to navigate through this installment. Provided below is a summary of each section in this installment.


The full-text of the article, "Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State," from the September 2002 issue of the Journal

Teaching the Article

The author's comments about using his/her article in the classroom

This installment includes three exercises for classroom use:

Each exercise includes an online version which the teacher may use in the classroom or to which a teacher may direct a student for study outside of the classroom. A PDF version of each exercise is also available; this version is formatted for paper use, either as a classroom hand-out or as an overhead transparency.

Primary Sources

A set of primary source documents and images selected for use in teaching this article

Further Reading

A bibliography of related secondary sources recommended by the author


A list of links to related Web sites