College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Mujahedin, Eradication


After the Soviet invasion in 1980, Afghanistan became the world’s leading
supplier of opium and has continued to do so in 2011. The prevailing explanations for the proliferation of the opium economy in Afghanistan point out several key factors: opium as a manageable and profitable cash crop brings a monetary income to farmers who are deprived of the ability to produce their food crops due to violence and the destruction of
infrastructure, economic stability to farmers, drug trafficking thrives primarily when a country has been in a state of permanent turmoil, and the Taliban fund their insurgency because of the drug trade. However, these ideas lack a careful analysis of the geographic, cultural, and social complexities of the context of Afghanistan’s opium production. The primary aim of this research is to demonstrate that the context in which opium production
thrives in Afghanistan is complex and requires a more comprehensive approach in order to address its structural drivers. Furthermore, it demonstrates that while the Taliban utilize the drug trade to finance part of their insurgency, opium production facilitates instability in other ways as well, primarily by disrupting a rural livelihood strategy of rural Afghans.