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Caron, James (2019) 'Pashto Border Literature as Geopolitical Knowledge.' Geopolitics, 24 (2). pp. 444-461.

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In this article I read a selection of Pashto literatures as critical thought about geopolitics. Drawing on Michael Shapiro’s concept of aesthetic subjects, as well as on border theory, I argue that the authors, the content, and the literary networks of these works all comment on global relations of power, ranging from the local bordering effects of geopolitics, to systems of knowledge embedded in the spatiality and temporality of empire. I argue that past and current imperial processes have led to fragmenting effects in Afghan society, and literature both reflects and analyzes this. Beyond that, I argue—through the examples of authors’ lives as well as their work—that literary activity in Pashto has actively negotiated such processes throughout its history, and offers strategies for countervailing notions of global connectivity in action as well as thought. The decentralized and multiperspective images of life in these works sit in counterpoint not only to the systems-oriented views that drive military and other policy in Afghanistan during the ongoing US moment, but also to universalist perspectives upon which disciplines like world history and geopolitics traditionally rely. Additionally, though, Pashto literary networks themselves also produce alternative structures. This contributes to the aesthetic turn in IR by arguing that it is not only the aesthetic vision in works that challenges dominant knowledge; the shape of the Pashto literary formation itself, organic with its content, is an alternate form of knowledge-in-practice about the contemporary world.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Afghanistan, Pashto, Literature, Borderland, Historiography, Geopolitics
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of History
Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations
P Language and Literature > PK Indo-Iranian languages and literatures
ISSN: 14650045
Copyright Statement: © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Geopolitics on 23 Nov 2018, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2018 12:19

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