Americanisation, sovietisation, and resistance at Kabul University: limits of the educational reforms

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The paper compares the American and Soviet transformations at Kabul University, Afghanistan, during the 1960s to the 1980s explained in terms of Americanisation and Sovietisation. Using new declassified documents from both American and former Soviet archives, the author reveals that both powers attempted to impose their rival models of university education in Afghanistan. However, resistance on the part of the Afghan university undermined both of their cultural influences, thus causing their policies of reform to eventually fail. The case of Kabul University demonstrates the inability of the superpowers to encourage the formation of pliable students and professors. Despite crucial transformations in the structure, administration apparatus, and content of disciplines, both superpowers were not able to change the traditions and values of professors and students. The university community has been proven to be the main cause for the success or failure of any reforms brought to a university by external powers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-365
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2017


  • University
  • resistance
  • higher education
  • history
  • Ideology


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