Cultural histories of Pashtun nationalism, public participation, and social inequality in monarchic Afghanistan, 1905–1960

James M Caron, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

In this dissertation I inquire into the ideological and social roots of Pashtun ethno-nationalism in Afghanistan, by analyzing political-economic history; biography; and written and oral Pashto literature. Demands for the proper public realization of Pashtun identity were not unified. Rather, as I show, politicized “Pashtunness” emerged as an ideological arena for struggles of gender and social inequality—in uneven yet interlinked public spaces that depended on print only marginally, but crossed social and geographic boundaries. Amid regional shifts in Depression-era political economy, Afghanistan saw vast changes in social communication channels over the early 20th century. Mobile populations became more locally rooted, physically and culturally. Local patriarchies and monarchic power reinforced each other; elites sought to co-opt and hierarchize routes for all kinds of circulation. Yet, non-elites resisted a vertical rooting of social awareness with increasingly well-defined, mutually integrated forms of horizontal public interaction. Intellectuals of the lower gentry built on cross-border links with anti-colonial struggles in India, fusing anti-patriarchal ideas of Pashtun honor with rural activist networks. Non-literate poets of very marginal origins maneuvered between landed elite patronage and liberal reformism to project angry protests of local oppression onto a transnational scale.

Subject Area

History|Middle Eastern history

Recommended Citation

Caron, James M, "Cultural histories of Pashtun nationalism, public participation, and social inequality in monarchic Afghanistan, 1905–1960" (2009). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3381504.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3381504

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