Incorporating north-western Afghanistan into the British empire: experiments in indirect rule through the making of an imperial frontier, 1884–87

Fuoli, Francesca (2018). Incorporating north-western Afghanistan into the British empire: experiments in indirect rule through the making of an imperial frontier, 1884–87. Afghanistan, 1(1), pp. 4-25. Edinburgh University Press 10.3366/afg.2018.0004

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This article analyses the British-led demarcation of Afghanistan’s north-western border in the Maimena region between 1884–7. Historians of Afghanistan have largely neglected the Afghan Boundary Commission as a minor episode in Amir Abdur Rahman Khan’s process of internal reform and ‘modernisation’. This article nuances these approaches and reconsiders the role of boundary-making as an instrument for building empire at the level of local indigenous political organisation. It argues that the demarcation became an occasion for increasing British interference in Afghan affairs that aimed at establishing embryonic forms of colonial rule along Afghanistan’s borderlands. Commissioners sought the collaboration of local intermediaries – Afghan officials and ethnic minorities – in ways that bypassed official relations with the court in Kabul. The Boundary Commission became instrumental in enabling the extension and consolidation of the government of Kabul’s authority over previously semi-autonomous areas. In the long term, it became the blueprint for the demarcation of Afghanistan’s northern boundaries in Turkestan, Badakhshan and the Pamirs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History > Modern and Contemporary History

UniBE Contributor:

Fuoli, Francesca

Subjects:

900 History > 950 History of Asia

ISSN:

2399-357X

Publisher:

Edinburgh University Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Francesca Fuoli

Date Deposited:

02 Apr 2019 16:13

Last Modified:

28 Oct 2019 13:09

Publisher DOI:

10.3366/afg.2018.0004

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia, British empire, British India,Russian empire, Great Game, Abdur Rahman Khan, Afghan BoundaryCommission, Maimana, Panjdeh, informal empire, frontier, borderland, tribes,ethnic minorities

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.129840

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/129840

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