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Title: The refuge of the world : Afghanistan and the Muslim imagination 1880-1922
Author: Wide, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 9154
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation is an attempt to solve a puzzle: how and why did the poor, remote and isolated country of Afghanistan become a site of international Muslim aspiration and imagination in the early 20th century? To answer this question, the dissertation focuses on the creation of ‘place’ - of Afghanistan in conceptual and material terms - out of the movement through ‘space’ of Afghan and Muslim travellers, and the inscriptions of such movement in texts. Through such a study, the dissertation argues that Afghanistan’s emergence as imperial counter-space and practical base for Muslims was the product of new physical and intellectual interactions amongst Afghan and Muslim travellers, powered by new technologies of steam and print. Such an argument resituates Afghanistan in connection to larger transformations taking place elsewhere. It thus marks an attempt to write late 19th and early 20th century Afghanistan back into global history. At the same time as drawing Afghanistan into that larger global story, however, the dissertation stresses the distinctiveness of the ‘Muslim turn’ to Afghanistan: how many of these new physical and intellectual movements relied on older physical or imagined connections with ‘the land of the Afghans’; how other movements offered strikingly original visions of what Afghanistan was and could be; how the Afghan court fostered and encouraged such movements through its particularist policies; how Afghanistan’s seemingly remote location, on the peripheries of the religious heartlands of the Middle East and the political and economic centres of western imperialism, made it such a prominent and attractive focus of Muslim interest and action. By plotting the inter-connections of Afghan and Muslim travellers over a forty-year period, the dissertation charts how Afghanistan grew to become one of the great hopes of the Muslim world. At the same time, the dissertation charts the growing gap between the idealized representation of Afghanistan and its reality. Finally, it illustrates how the ‘Muslim turn’ to Afghanistan ended in disillusionment and disaster, on Afghanistan’s plains.
Supervisor: Herzig, Edmund Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; International,imperial and global history ; Persian ; Urdu ; Afghanistan