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Afghan Histories beyond the State, War, and Tribe

  • Robert Nichols (a1)

Increased access to archival and other textual sources and the situating of “Afghan” history within wider theoretical, comparative, and interdisciplinary thinking have opened Afghanistan-related studies to new fields of research and analysis. This offers new opportunities to reimagine and move beyond established historical narratives and preoccupations. At a point when English-language archives have been comprehensively mined for the political histories of Afghan dynasties, intruding Western empires, and the dynamics of modernity and state-building, non-English-language primary-source material has become increasingly available, including in translation and in online digital archival formats. The recent English translation by M. Mehdi Khorrami and Robert D. McChesney of volume three of The History of Afghanistan by the Afghan Hazara historian Fayz Muhammad Katib (c. 1863–1931) offers new material with which to reconsider not only elite political careers but also ethnic identity and competition, the sociology of provincial political networks, and the creation of governing rules codified by ʿAbd al-Rahman and Habibullah.

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1 Katib, Fayz Muhammad, The History of Afghanistan: 1747–1901: Fayz Muhammad Katib's Siraj al-Tawarikh, vol. 3 (Kabul: Government Press [Matbaʾa-i Dawlat], 1333/1915), trans. M. Mehdi Khorrami and R. D. McChesney (Leiden: E. J. Brill, forthcoming).

2 Afghanistan Digital Library,

3 For example, see Monsutti, Alessandro, War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan, trans. Camiller, Patrick (New York: Routledge, 2005).

4 Green, Nile, “The Automotive Roots of Afghan Internationalism: Motorized Transport in Early Twentieth Century Afghanistan,” in Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier, ed. Marsden, Magnus and Hopkins, Ben (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).

5 Edwards, David, Heroes of the Age: Moral Fault Lines on the Afghan Frontier (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1996).

6 Dale, Stephen, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600–1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Hanifi, Shah Mahmud, Connecting Histories in Afghanistan: Market Relations and State Formation on a Colonial Frontier (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2011); Markovits, Claude, The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750–1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

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International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
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