The western part of Afghan Turkistan, falling within the two provinces of Faryab and Jouzjan, is both fertile and ethnically diverse (see Map 2). Taken together these two features are of crucial importance to an understanding of the Maduzai ethnography which I present here. Maduzai social life takes place against a background of fierce inter-ethnic competition for the control of productive land; in turn, of course, this competition has had a direct effect on Maduzai beliefs and practices, especially those related to gender and the institution of marriage. Thus, as we shall see, among Durrani Pashtuns — including the Maduzai — the control of women's behaviour and their exchange in marriage are perhaps the most important criteria used to define their ethnic identity.
In this respect the geography and the social milieux of Afghan Turkistan are of direct relevance to this study, but as the wider contexts of Durrani ethnicity and other questions of social identity have already been discussed by RLT (1983, 1984b, 1988 and forthcoming a and b) and myself (1979, 1982), my concern here is to describe social identity and ethnicity from the Durrani point of view and to relate these to the ideology and practices of marriage as found within the Maduzai subtribe.