Public and political commentaries on the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban abound in popular media, including numerous editorials about the failure of US policy and a rehashing of the trope of Afghanistan as the "graveyard of empires." Setting these approaches aside, four scholars will discuss their perspectives on the history and culture of Afghanistan through their research findings and experiences in Afghanistan, and in the wider Persianate world and beyond, particularly in light of the current situation and the rapidly evolving and unknown futures for the people of Afghanistan.
Watch the conversation.
Dr. Shivan Mahendrarajah, Research Fellow at the Institute of Iranian Studies, School of History, University of St. Andrews. Co-editor of Afghanistan: The Journal of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies and the author of The Sufi Saint of Jam: History, Religion, and Politics of a Sunni Shrine in Shi'i Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2021).
Dr. Mejgan Massoumi, Teaching Fellow, Civil Liberal and Global Education, Stanford University. Co-editor of The Fundamentalist City? Religiosity and the remaking of urban space (with Nezar AlSayyad (Routledge, 2010) and author the forthcoming article, “Radio, Revolution, and Afghan Connectivity to the World, 1960-79,” Iranian Studies.
Dr. Jawan Shir Rasikh, Visiting Research Associate with the Shafique N. Virani Research Team, University of Toronto. PhD dissertation on "Early Islamic Ghur, 10th-12th Centuries CE: Rereading the Tabaqat-i Nasiri;" author of “The many lives of a medieval Muslim scholar: An introduction to the life and times of Minhaj Siraj al-Din Juzjani, 1193-1260 CE," in Afghanistan vol. 3/1 (October 2020) and editor of In Search of Peace for Afghanistan: Historical Letters of President Najibullah and Dr. M. Hassan Kakar: A Collection of Essays (Kakar History Foundation Press, 2021).
Dr. Annika Schmeding, Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows. Research on nomads, refugees and politicians in Afghanistan, contemporary Sufism in Afghanistan and belonging and community formation in (post) conflict settings. Currently working on a book manuscript titled, Navigating Authority: Leadership, Resilience and Change among Sufi Communities in Afghanistan and co-editor of a volume in progress, Frontier Ethnographies: Deconstructing Anthropological Knowledge on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Moderated by Dr. Jo-Ann Gross, Professor Emerita of Middle Eastern and Central Asian History, The College of New Jersey. Co-editor with Devin DeWeese of Sufism in Central Asia: New Perspectives on Sufi Traditions, 15th-21st Centuries, (Brill Publishers, 2018); co-author with Asom Urunbaev of The Letters of Khwaja ‘Ubayd Allah Ahrar and his Associates (Brill, 2002); editor of Muslims in Central Asia: Expressions of Identity and Change (Duke UP, 1992), co-author of Ismailism in Badakhshan: A Genealogical History (in progress) and co-editor of Genealogical History in the Persianate World (in progress).