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Milo, Alexander (1979) The historiography of the political culture of the Afghan period (1451-1557) in Northern India: A critical analysis of its logical and empirical status. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The aim of this thesis is to formalize and to analyze critically the historiography of the "Afghan period" in northern India. We have attempted to examine whether interpretative frameworks offered by historians since the 16th century can be corroborated by the historical remains extant. We have differentiated between two sets of historiographical assumptions put forward by two distinct groups of historians - the "medieval" and the "modern". Medieval historians - who composed their works in the 16th and 17th centuries - interpreted the Afghan period by reference to a network of mutual obligations among different sections of the society, which interrelationships were regulared in harmony with traditional Muslim precepts of government. An additional element determined the course of events, namely God's direct intervention within the field of history. We have found the explanatory principles of medieval historians to be logically self-contradictory, and empirically irrelevant for the understanding of the political culture of our period. Modern historians - who have been publishing their works in and since the 19th century - believe that the political dynamics of the Afghan period could be perceived within a framework of an intermittent struggle between exponents of two political programmes; tribally-oriented individuals,who struggled against supporters of a plan to erect a secular state governed by an impartial centralized bureaucracy headed by an autocrat. It seems to us that modern historians' interpretative scheme cannot be corroborated by the extant historical evidence; it also fails to explain the political instability of the Afghan period. Our historians appear to have been more interested in their own ideas about the period, than in the understanding of its political features. Owing to the peculiar nature of the historical evidence surviving from the Afghan period, the latter's political system and its political dynamics remain obscure.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:15

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