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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
August 2024
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Book description

Since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, the need to understand the group's history and ideology has only increased. Jan-Peter Hartung's timely study examines the phenomenon of the Taliban through a topographically, ethnically and geo-politically distinct space: the Pashtun Borderland of today's Afghanistan and Pakistan. Emphasising the central role of Pashtun ethnicity, Hartung covers approximately five hundred years of Pashtun history: from the early modern Mughal empire to the first Durrani Empire in the eighteenth century and the regional developments during the colonial period in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Drawing from a wealth of primary source materials in Pashto, Persian, Urdu and Arabic, Hartung moves the discussion of the Taliban beyond the immediacy of journalistic reportage and security-orientated studies, to a nuanced analysis of a wide range of actors and ideologies, refracting Afghanistan's present moment through the lens of its long cultural and religious history.


‘This impressive volume makes multiple crucial interventions in the literature on Pashtuns. Hartung excavates vast reservoirs of local language sources for a longue durée social history that reframes the geographical context of cultural production using the borderscape concept while productively addressing class and other hierarchies in this polyvalent ideological space.’

Shah Mahmoud Hanifi - James Madison University

‘This is a deeply researched and illuminating history of the origins of the Taliban in the borderlands of contemporary Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is masterful in elucidating the processes that have shaped Islam and politics in this region and how they have come to be embodied in the phenomenon of the Taliban.’

Muhammad Qasim Zaman - Princeton University


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