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Maps and Spaces

  • Christine Noelle-Karimi (a1)

Students of Afghan history come up against two sets of academic demarcations and appropriations. First, as Nile Green points out in his introduction to this roundtable, Afghanistan as a field of study tends to fall off the edge of the scholarly traditions associated with the regional denominations of the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Asia. Second, the tendency to view history through the lens of present-day national entities presents an impediment to historical inquiry and not only in Afghanistan. The attempt to streamline the past to fit a consistent narrative of state-building may serve to foster a national identity, yet it is of little use in gaining a deeper understanding of the political, social, and economic processes at work in a given period.

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1 On travel, both voluntary and involuntary, see R. D. McChesney's contribution to this roundtable; on the social and spatial mobility of tribal elites, see Noelle-Karimi, Christine, “The Abdali Afghans between Multan, Qandahar and Herat in the 16th and 17th Centuries,” in Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier, ed. Marsden, Magnus and Hopkins, Benjamin (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming).

2 Alam, Muzaffar and Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, 1400–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 34.

3 Fragner, Bert G., Die “Persophonie”: Regionalität, Identität und Sprachkontakt in der Geschichte Asiens (Berlin: Das Arabische Buch, 1999).

4 McChesney, Robert D., Waqf in Central Asia. Four Hundred Years in the History of a Muslim Shrine, 1480–1889 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991).

5 Noelle-Karimi, Christine, The Pearl in Its Midst: Herat and the Mapping of Khurasan from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, forthcoming).

6 Schinasi, May, Afghanistan at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century. A Study of Serâj ul-Akhbâr (1911–1918) (Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale, 1979).

7 Grevemeyer, Jan-Heeren, Afghanistan. Sozialer Wandel und Staat im 20. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 1990); Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Law in Afghanistan. A Study of Constitutions, Matrimonial Law and the Judiciary (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1985).

8 Ghani, Ashraf, “Islam and State-Building in a Tribal Society. Afghanistan: 1880–1901,” Modern Asian Studies 12 (1978): 269–84; Olesen, Asta, Islam and Politics in Afghanistan (Richmond, U.K.: Curzon Press, 1995).

9 Benjamin Buchholz, Loya Jirga: Ratsversammlung, Verfassungsorgan und Mythos (forthcoming).

10 Muhammad, Fayz, Siraj al-Tawarikh: Jild-i Chaharum, ed. Mawlayi, Muhammad Sarwar, 4 vols. (Kabul: Intisharat-i Amiri, 1390/2011).

11 For the ongoing working group on “Modernity and Modernism in Persophone Literary History” at the Institutes of Iranian Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna and at the University of Bamberg, see (accessed 14 August 2012).

12 The multiple perspectives on the historical process since the 1940s are nicely captured by Edwards, David B., Before Taliban (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2002). For an analysis of the narrative structures of Sultan ʿAli Kishtmand's memoirs, see Andreas Wilde, “Narrative Strukturen afghanischer Geschichtsschreibung am Beispiel von ‘Yāddāshthāyo Siyāsī va Rūydādhā-yi Tārīkhī’” (master's thesis, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, 2004).

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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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