Mountstuart Elphinstone and the Historical Foundations of Afghanistan Studies

The AIAS co-sponsored program “Mountstuart Elphinstone and the Historical Foundations of Afghanistan Studies: Reframing Colonial Knowledge of the Indo-Persian World in the Post-Colonial Era” examined the intellectual legacy of Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859) whose career as a diplomat, administrator and scholar left a substantial and lasting impact on colonial fields of knowledge and governance in Afghanistan and British India. Elphinstone’s seminal Account of the Kingdom of Caubul (1815) established the framework for knowing and engaging Afghanistan, and his influential History of India (1841) built upon significant and highly transformative administrative tenures in Poona/Pune and Bombay/Mumbai.

The conference took place at SOAS, University of London, from November 6-7, 2015, and included a key-note address given by William Dalrymple, based upon research for his book Return of a King (2012).

Part II of the Elphinstone Conference series will take place at Elphinstone College in Mumbai, India in April 2017.

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