SOAS University of London

Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus

Conference: Rethinking the Swat Pathan

The speakers are listed in the programme

Date: 11 June 2010Time: 9:45 AM

Finishes: 12 June 2010Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Conference

Now more than ever before there is a need for sophisticated anthropological and historical insights into the identity dynamics of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s diverse communities. This is particularly true of the Pukhtuns, who are almost universally considered by policy-makers and analysts to be the source of Afghanistan’s current problems. Pukhtuns are portrayed as seeking refuge in religious ‘fundamentalism’, most particularly as the Taliban, either as a form of protest against political alienation or as a reflection of their inherently ‘Islamist’ worldview. A more nuanced approach is urgently required to understand the role played by Pukhtun culture and identity in the political dynamics shaping Afghanistan, Pakistan and the wider region. The narrow focus on the Taliban as the most recent incarnation of Pukhtun irredentism has led many to ignore the varied social and economic worlds Pukhtuns historically co-authored with other communities and continue to currently inhabit and actively forge. This conference offers such an approach to a wider public by bringing together a number of experts on the region.


Friday, 11 June 2010 
9.45Welcome, including remarks by Paul Webley (SOAS Director and Principal)
10.00-10.45Professor Fredrik Barth
Raising some issues
10.45-11.15Ashraf Ghani (Former Afghan Finance Minister and Anthropologist)
Pre-recorded talk
11.30-13.00Reflections on Continuity & Change  
 Professor Richard Tapper (SOAS)
Afghan Village Voices
 Professor David Edwards (Williams College)
New Lessons from the Swat Pathans: Violence and Political Legitimacy in Afghanistan
 Professor Charles Lindholm (Boston University)
Frontier Perspectives
14.00-15.30Swat in Crisis
 Professor Anatol Lieven (KCL)
Rise and Fall of the TNSM in Swat
 Professor Anita M. Weiss (University of Oregon)
Crisis and Reconciliation in Swat through the Eyes of Women
 Dr Urs Geiser (University of Zurich-Irchel)
Producing civil society, ignoring rivaj - donors and development interventions in Swat
15.30-15.45Tea/coffee break
15.45-17.45Identity Politics
 Dr Nancy Lindisfarne (SOAS)
Exceptional Pashtuns? Class Politics, Imperialism and Historiograhy
 Dr Vazira Zamindar (Brown)
Who are the Afghans? Archaeology, Anthropology and Photography on a colonial frontier
 Dr Mukulika Banerjee (London School of Economics)
Challenging essentialism: Pashtuns in history and cinema
 Dr Zuzanna Olszewska (Oxford University)
Afghans in Iran: Representations and Counter-Representations by Afghan Ahl-e Farhang ('People of Culture')

An evening of Kabuli music featuring Yusuf Mahmoud

Free to all 'Rethinking the Swat Pathan' conference participants
£10 to guests (payable on the door)

Saturday, 12 June 2010
9.30-11.00Tribe & Status
 Ms Mariam Abou Zahab (Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po)/INALCO (Paris))    
Kashars against Mashars: jihad and social change in the FATA
 Dr Conrad Schetter (Center for Development Research, University of Bonn)
In between tribe and patronage: Social networks in Paktia
 Dr Antonio Giustozzi (Crisis States Research Centre, LSE)
If only there were leaders: the problem of 'fixing' the Pashtun tribes
 11.00-11.15 Tea/coffee break
 11.15-12.45 Custom & Tradition
 Dr Shah Mahmoud Hanifi (James Madison University)
The Combined History of Pashto Printing and Resistance to Print
 Dr Christine Noelle-Karimi (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)
The Abdali Pashtuns between Multan, Qandahar and Herat
 Dr Hugh Beattie (Open University)
Custom and Conflict in Waziristan: Some British Views
13.30-15.30Political Culture & the State
 Professor Robert Nichols (The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey)
Class, State, and Power in Swat Conflict
 Dr Nicolas Martin (London School of Economics)
Patronage and Coercion in Swat and in the Punjab
 Dr Sana Haroon
Enjoining Virtue and Preventing Vice': The moral directives of the Taliban in the Swat Valley in history and the present
 Dr Benjamin Hopkins (The George Washington University)
Bloody Fanatics': Jihad in Swat during the British Raj
15.30-15.45Tea/coffee break
15.45-16.45Mobility & Diaspora
 Professor Nile Green (UCLA)
The Mountains of Modernity: Afghanistan and the Urdu Ecumene, 1900-1935
 Dr Magnus Marsden (SOAS)
Being Diplomatic in an Afghan Way
16.45-17.30Book Discussion/Concluding remarks


Dr Shah Mahmoud Hanifi (James Madison University
The Combined History of Pashto Printing and Resistance to Print

Media Coverage

Frontier Post (June 15)

London conference warns against stereotyping Pakhtuns


Pashton Historical

Pashto Afganistan (Shorter version of an illustrated report)


Enquiries about the Programme

Magnus Marsden, or Ben Hopkins, 

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office (REO), Dept of Anthropology