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  • Nile Green (a1)

Compared to its neighboring countries, Afghanistan remains something of a blank on the historiographical map. Falling between Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Central Asian fields of expertise, it is in many respects the last great unclaimed territory of historical studies, not so much competed over as ignored by scholars trained in these areas. Despite a rich burst of scholarship in the 1960s, and the efforts of a small but distinguished cadre of scholars since then, Afghan history has neither truly developed as a historical field in its own right nor been successfully absorbed into the study of any of its adjacent regions. This is not to deny that Afghanistan has received some expert (and inexpert) attention since the U.S.-led intervention in late 2001: several important analytical works stand out among the shelves of other, more or less hastily written, books of the past decade. But anthropologists and political scientists have led the way; historians’ interventions in this burgeoning literature have been few. Of the three most significant books on Afghan history published since 2001, two deal with Afghanistan in relation to colonial India, and the other is a survey work written by an anthropologist (albeit benefiting from the analytical cross-fertilization).

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1 Barfield, Thomas, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010); Hanifi, Shah Mahmoud, Connecting Histories in Afghanistan: Market Relations and State Formation on a Colonial Frontier (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2011); Hopkins, Benjamin, The Making of Modern Afghanistan (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

2 The November 2011 conference was part of an ongoing attempt to promote Afghanistan studies at UCLA and was made possible by generous funding from the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies. Details of the conference and podcasts of the presentations can be found at (accessed 27 July 2012).

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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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