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Research Materials Relating
The purpose of the information which follows is
to provide the library researcher with bibliographic references to
published materials on Afghanistan, including that region
of Afghanistan known as Nuristan, which, in the 19th
century was known as ‘Kafiristan’. The bibliographic
references listed, mostly English-language publications but also
major works in other languages, were gleaned from libraries in
Edinburgh, London, and Oxford between the years 1960-1970 and
Oxford, 1985-1990 by Schuyler Jones.
A second aim of the references listed is to
provide information on the economic system known as
which is arguably not, as some writers have suggested, merely
a variation of pastoral nomadism.
A brief introductory selection of bibliographies relating to
Akram, Mohammed. Bibliographie Analytique
de l’Afghanistan. I Ouvrages parus hors de l’Afghanistan,
Billimoria, N. M. Bibliography of
Publications on Sind & Baluchistan, Second Edition, Revised &
Jones, Schuyler. Afghanistan, vol. 135
(in) World Bibliographical Series, Oxford, 1992
McLachlan, K. & William Whittaker. A
Bibliography of Afghanistan: A working bibliography of materials on
Afghanistan with special reference to economic and social change in
the twentieth century, Cambridge, 1983. This publication is
something of a disappointment as none of the entries are annotated
and the work generally suffers from inept editing.
Wilber, Donald N. Annotated Bibliography
of Afghanistan, 3rd Edition, New Haven, 1968
Additionally, the Area Handbook for
Afghanistan, published under the auspices of The American
University in Washington, D.C. (Fourth Edition, 1973) contains a
bibliography which provides a useful starting point for research.
The Area Handbook Series (this one is designated DA Pam 550-65) is
“designed to be useful to military and other personnel who need a
convenient compilation of basic facts about the social, economic,
political, and military institutions and practices of various
countries.” A revised volume entitled Afghanistan: A Country
Study (1986) was edited by Richard F. Nyrop.
In 1906 Angus Hamilton published an ambitious
and remarkably comprehensive 562 page volume entitled Afghanistan
(Heinemann, London) which amounts to an economic, historical,
geographical, and political survey of the entire country. Louis
Dupree did more or less the same thing (see below) nearly 70 years
later for the 20th century.
Many books about Afghanistan contain extensive
bibliographies which serve to guide further research, e.g.:
Afghanistan. Ländermonographie. Liestal, (1986)
Amstutz, J. Bruce. Afghanistan: The
First Five Years of Soviet Occupation (1986)
Dupree, Louis. Afghanistan.
(1973, 1978, 1980).
Edelberg, Lennart & Schuyler Jones.
Fraser-Tytler, W.K. Afghanistan: A Study
of Political Developments in Central Asia (1950).
Jones, Schuyler. Men of Influence in
Nuristan: A Study of Social Control and Dispute Settlement in Waigal
Valley, Afghanistan. (1974)
For an intriguing study of the Soviet invasion
and occupation of Afghanistan see:
The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower
Fought and Lost. This book, published by the University
Press of Kansas in 2002 , was written by the Russian General
Russian-language books, articles, and reports
on Afghanistan, covering historical and scientific research, are
legion. Few of these have been translated into English. An extensive
bibliography of Russian-language publications on Afghanistan was
published in Moscow in 1965:
Bibliografiya Afghanistana, Literatura na russkom yazyke.
Akademiya nauk SSSR, Institut narodov Azii, Sostavitel T.I. Kuhtina,
Izdatel'stvo "Nauka", Glavnaya redakciya vostochnoi literatury,
The historical studies by
Russian writers that have appeared in English, such as A History
of Afghanistan (Moscow, 1982, written by several authors) are
heavily flavored with Soviet political themes. The above-mentioned
book, published when the Soviets were fighting a war in Afghanistan,
describes Russian-Afghan relations as rising to new heights of
good-neighborliness and goes on to say “Their close friendship and
revolutionary solidarity serve as a sound basis for the steady
promotion of these relations.” Another booklet reflecting the Soviet
point of view is by Leonid Teplinksy. Entitled USSR-DRA:
Good-neighborliness and Fraternal Friendship, it sets out to
emphasize the close historic, economic, and diplomatic ties with
Afghanistan at a time when the Soviets had been waging war in that
country for four years.
The Central Asian Research Centre in London published a short
Bibliography of Russian Works on Afghanistan in 1956. This 12 page
document lists approximately 150 Russian language publications which
had appeared "...up to the end of October 1956". The compiler added
that "All subsequent Russian books and articles on Afghanistan will
be entered in the Bibliographical Note of [the] Central Asian
Review." A further note at the end of the bibliography reports
that "An analysis of Soviet publications on Afghanistan was
contained in [the] Central Asian Review, Vol. IV, No.
In 1956 the Human
Relations Area Files (HRAF) published Afghanistan in
their Country Survey Series. This volume was edited by Donald N.
Wilber. It remains an excellent source of information about
Afghanistan and contains a very useful bibliography. In 1962 HRAF
Press brought out an edited version of this earlier work under the
title Afghanistan, its People, its Society, its Culture
as part of a new series entitled Survey of World Cultures.
Unfortunately, whereas the earlier volume contained 501 pages, the
new volume was reduced to 320 pages, an achievement attained by
removing much of the most useful and valuable information.
As far as I am aware, the world’s largest repository of research
materials on Afghanistan is to be found in the Bibliotheca
the Schweizerisches Afghanistan-Archiv in Liestal, Switzerland,
which is under the direction of Paul Bucherer-Dietschi. This
institution issues occasional publications and a card-index of its
holdings for subscribers which is updated regularly. This remarkable
institution is the work, over many years, of its Director.
Address: Dr. Paul
Bucherer-Dietschi, Director, OB. BURGHALDENWEG 31, CH-4410
LIESTAL, SWITZERLAND. Information available from the internet
by carrying out a search for Bibliotheca Afghanica.
In Germany the
Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen has published
articles and bibliographies of German-language publications relating
to Afghanistan, e.g., Mitteilungen, vol. 4, No. 9/10, 1954. Address:
Charlottenplatz 17, Stuttgart, Germany.
In Austria the Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt in Graz launched
in 1974 a quarterly publication under the title Afghanistan
Journal. This was the brain-child of Karl Gratzl whose
tireless efforts kept the journal going for nine years. Published
from 1974 to 1982, the journal was aimed at an international
audience of scholars with articles published in English, French, and
German. Its purpose was to provide a forum for current research
(historical, archaeological, anthropological, botanical, etc.) in
Afghanistan. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979
marked a decline in international interest in Afghanistan just at
the moment when, personally speaking, I would have expected an
increase. Rising publication costs combined with the fact that no
new research could be carried out in Afghanistan eventually meant
the demise of this most laudable undertaking.
For researchers embarking on a study of the
history of Afghanistan there is a handy introductory reference work
by M. Jamil Hanifi entitled Historical and Cultural Dictionary of
Afghanistan, published in 1976. Beyond that there are literally
dozens of 19th and 20th century histories of the country. Most of
those found in American and European libraries were written by
British and American authors. The best known historian from
Afghanistan itself is undoubtedly Mohammed Ali who is known in the
west primarily because so many of his books appeared in English.
Those seeking a basic grounding in Islam and
Islamic history – arguably an essential for any understanding of an
Islamic nation – should consult Muhammad at Mecca and
Muhammad at Medina by W. Montgomery Watt and
A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani. For those in a hurry to acquire some
background knowledge of Islam the
Prophet & Statesman
Montgomery Watt is a valuable source by one of Europe’s foremost
Islamic scholars. An earlier work which first appeared in 1937 but
which was revised and reprinted a number of times during the
following thirty years is Philip K. Hitti’s
History of the Arabs from the Earliest Times to the
More recently we have the essential
reference work entitled The Concise Encyclopaedia of
Islam, Revised Edition (2001) by Cyril Glasse and two
excellent volumes by Karen Armstrong: Muhammad, A
Biography of the Prophet and Muhammad, a Prophet
for Our Time. Finally, the serious scholar will require
the remarkable three volume work by Marshall G.S. Hodgson
entitled The Venture of Islam, Conscience and History in a
World Civilization; Volume One, The Classical Age
of Islam; Volume Two, The Expansion of Islam in
the Middle Periods; Volume Three, The Gunpowder
Empires and Modern Times.
general field of archaeology and art The Crossroads of Asia,
edited by Elizabeth Errington and Joe Cribb, 1992, contains
two bibliographies, one technical and one general, that are worth
consulting. In 1973 Norman Hammond edited the volume South
Asian Archaeology which includes studies relating to
what might be called 'greater Afghanistan'. See also The Art of Afghanistan
by Jeannine Auboyer, 1968, for a bibliography of
nearly 340 references divided into 19th and 20th century decades
according to date of publication, i.e., Before 1921, From 1921 to
1929, From 1930 to 1939, From 1940 to 1949, from 1950 to 1959, and
An ambitious geographical study of Afghanistan
was undertaken by Johannes Humlum and published in Copenhagen in
1959 under the title of La
géographie de l’Afghanistan, Etude d’un pays aride. The
bibliography contains sections on maps, statistics, periodicals,
books, reports, etc. in a number of European languages. The author
was a member of the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia
The year 1972, remarkably enough, saw the
publication of two detailed studies by two different authors of a
single bazaar in Afghanistan:
Bazaar-e-Tashqurghan, ethnographical studies in an Afghan
Charpentier (in English), and Un bazaar d’Asie Centrale, Forme et
organization du bazaar de Tashqurghan (Afghanistan)
(in French), both containing useful bibliographies.
Foremost in the field of linguistics in regard
to Afghanistan and neighboring regions are the names of Georg Morgenstierne, Georg Buddruss, and Gérard Fussman. With Professor
Morgenstierne leading the way, these scholars have produced an
impressive body of published reports that will serve to guide and
inform their successors for generations to come.
Schuyler Jones, CBE