Concepts of Statehood and Territoriality in Early Modern Afghanistan

-An International Conference of the UCLA Program on Central Asia

Charles E. Young Research Library Building, Los Angeles, CA-

Christine Nölle-Karimi from the Institute for Iranian Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences specializes in regional history and concepts of power and space. She is the author of State and Tribe in Nineteenth-Century Afghanistan (1997), on the genesis of the modern Afghan state and its impact on the relationship between the state-supporting elite and local powerbrokers; and co-author of Afghanistan—A Country without a State? (2002). In this presentation, Prof. Nölle-Karimi briefly explored the construction of Afghanistan as a modern political entity and its projection into the past. The focus, however, was on early modern notions of territory and the constraints and opportunities that delimited the horizon of the military actors. Interestingly, the term “Afghanistan” was associated with different spatial concepts over time. On the basis of Persian chronicles, she argued that the mapping of the terrain was a dynamic process, which involved the agglomeration of known territorial units rather than the delineation of political entities.

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