Posted by: Christian | May 18, 2009

Academic Reading Recommendation #2

I realize I already recommended this paper last year. However, I’ve picked up many new readers since then. Don’t be turned off by the title, it’s actually quite readable:

Caron, James M. ‘Afghanistan Historiography and Pashtun Islam: Modernization Theory’s Afterimage’, History Compass, 5/2 (2007): 314-329. Download PDF


In contrast to major developments in general South Asian historiography, the historiography of modern Afghanistan has largely persisted as something of a scholarly throwback to the ‘modernization theory’ trend of the 1950s and 60s. The way Pashtun experiences of Islam have been treated in history writing draws heavily upon this larger modernization-oriented thematic, which in turn has existed in a dialectic with journalistic and policy-oriented writing. This article analyzes a number of scholarly works in which questions of Islam and social change in Pashtun polities form a major focus. The article focuses on works focusing on the pre-1979 situation, which has been examined only perfunctorily in works of authors employing more current analytical techniques. The article identifies a number of appropriate thematic questions in existing work which could improve our understanding of the cultural history of pre-1979 Islam in Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, and raises a few new questions worth investigating.


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