If you would like to get to know some of the best scholars writing in English and working on Afghanistan and its diaspora, read on. The list below builds from a Twitter thread I started in August 2021.
The aim of it has been twofold. Firstly, to focus on scholarship that moves beyond the usual tropes of "terror", “Af-Pak” and “women need saving”. Unfortunately, these tropes continue to be central to constructions of Afghanistan and its society today. Secondly, the list has tried to give emphasis and space to scholars from Afghanistan and its diaspora.
Below each scholar I list one key recommend read or watch, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Find out more about them by checking out their academic profile pages or follow them on Twitter.
Khadija Fatima Abbasi, Graduate Institute, Geneva.
Anthropologist with a focus on Afghan Hazaras.
Recommended read: There is Death in Immobility (with Alessandro Monsutti.)
Jawan Shir Rasikh, University of Pennsylvania.
Medieval historian who also forays into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Shahram Khosravi, University of Stockholm.
Ethnographic work that examines migration and deportation of Afghans in Europe, against a backdrop of racism; Afghans in Iran.
Recommended read: “Deportation as a Way of Life for Young Afghans,”
Anila Daulatzai, Berkeley.
Socio-cultural anthropologist with a focus on women, health, aid, and imperialism.
Recommended read: The Discursive Occupation of Afghanistan.
Sahar Ghumkhor, University of Melbourne.
Critical race theory, gender, imperialism.
Recommended read: The Political Psychology of the Veil
Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, James Madison University.
Leading historian of Afghanistan with a focus on British colonial impacts on Afghanistan.
Recommended read: Mountstuart Elphinstone in South Asia: Pioneer of British Colonial Rule
Paniz Musawi Natanzi, Independent researcher.
Political Scientist bringing together art, gender, and geopolitics.
Recommended read: "Art, Geopolitics, and Gendering Afghanistan."
Zuzanna Olszewska, Oxford University.
Leading anthropologist of Afghans in Iran.
Orzala Nemat, AREU, Kabul.
Leading policy discussions and research in Afghanistan at the AREU, Kabul.
Recommended read: Local Governance in the Age of Liberal Interventionism :
Julie Billaud, Graduate Institute, Geneva.
Anthropologist and co-founder of Allegra Laboratory. Focus on conflict, gender, and aid in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Recommended read: Kabul Carnival: Gender Politics in Post War Afghanistan
James Caron, SOAS.
Historian who uses Pashto sources. Temporal scope weaves together pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial eras.
Recommended read: Pashto Border Literature as Geopolitical Knowledge
Saadia Toor, City University New York.
International political economy, culture, imperialism, and gender. Also works on Pakistan.
Recommended read: Imperialist Feminist Redux.
Aziz Hakimi, Chr. Michelsen Institute.
Political sociologist examining masculinities, marriage practices, and war and state formation.
Kaweh Kerami, SOAS.
Democracy and electoral politics in Afghanistan.
Recommended read: The Taliban: What Could its Return to Power Mean.
Wazmah Osman, Temple University.
Media and film in Afghanistan. Documentary film includes: Postcards from Tora Bora.
Recommended read: Television and the Afghan Culture Wars.
Zareena Aslami, Michigan State University.
Afghanistan, race, and empire in the nineteenth century.
Ahmad Qais Munhazim, Thomas Jefferson University.
Race, gender, critical international relations.
Recommended read: Rainbow in the Sky of War.
Faiz Ahmed, Brown University.
Historian situating Afghanistan conversation with British and Ottoman influence.
Recommended read: Afghanistan Rising.
Niamutllah Ibrahimi, La Trobe University.
Citizenship, international relations, ethnic relations.
Recommended read: The Hazaras and the Afghan State.
Fatima Mojaddedi, UC Davis.
Ethnography, violence, critical social theory, psychoanalysis in Afghanistan.
Recommended read: The Closing Heart, Mouth, Word.
Marya Hannun, Georgetown University.
Munazza Ebtikar, Oxford University.
Historian with a focus on historiography, memory, and gender.
Rabia Khan, SOAS.
British Hazaras, identity, diaspora, cultural studies.
Recommended read: Hazaras in Popular Culture.
Mejgan Massoumi, Stanford University.
Connective histories of media, sound, and popular culture.
Sherine Ebadi, Berkeley.
Geography, race, imperial formations in Afghanistan, feminism.
Recommended watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FfKoi4ySI8
Azeta Hatef, Emerson College.
Journalism, media, and diaspora.
Recommended read: “What My Parents Have Taught Me About Distance, Loss, and Uncertainty.”
Zohra Saed, Brooklyn.
Literature and poetry. Writer.
Afghan American Literature.
Recommended read: One Story, Thirty Stories.
Muska Dastageer, American University, Kabul.
Peace and conflict; gender.
Recommended read: To Success, Intra-Afghan Talks Must Defere to the Non-ideal.
Nura Sedique, Princeton University.
Muslims in the United States.
Ahmed Rashid Salim, Berkeley.
Islam, modern Afghanistan.
Orfan Badakshani, Delft University.
Diaspora and ethnic studies. Also a poet.
Recommended read: Ethnic Conflict within Diaspora.
Haroun Rahimi, American University Afghanistan.
Law; finance; trade; formal and informal economies; institutions; politics.
Lida Amiri, University of Liverpool.
Arts; poetry; film; literature. Also a poet.
Leila C. Nader, University of Rochester.
Ecologies; environmental history; diaspora;
Recommended read: Life After Ruins: Ruderal Ecologies, Afghan Diaspora, & Another Anthropocene.
Ali A Olomi, Penn State University.
Historian, commentator, and religious studies
Emran Feroz, Independent writer.
Afghanistan, contemporary affairs,
Recommended read: Der Längste Kreig [The Longest War]
Nushin Arbabzadeh, Independent writer.
Afghan media—historical and contemporary—, literature, women’s rights.
Recommended read: Afghan Rumour Bazar.
Zubeda Jalalzai, Rhode Island College.
Literature; post-colonial literature; transnational literature; travelogues.
Recommended read: Globalizing Afghanistan: Terrorism, War, and the Rhetoric of Nation Building (with David Jeferees.)
Marjan Wardaki, Yale University.
Historian; intellectual histories of migration; making linkages between Afghanistan and Germany.
Hakeem Naim, North Arizona University.
Historian; state formation; linking Afghanistan to the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century.
Recommended watch: Reflections on Biden for Afghanistan.
Nassim Majidi, Tufts University and Samuel Hall Institute.
Deportation, migration, human rights.
Recommended read: Deportees Lost at “Home”: Post-deportation Outcomes in Afghanistan.
Zahra Nader, York University.
Journalism; media; gender.
Recommended read: Can Facebook Usher in Political Inclusion for Afghan Women
Nichola Khan, Brighton University.
Social anthropologist focusing on Afghans in the UK.
Recommended read: Arc of the Journeyman: Afghan Migrants in England.
Elaheh Rostami-Povey, SOAS.
Afghan women, post-2001 invasion, feminism, empire.
Recommended read: Afghan Women: Identity and Invasion.
Francesca Fuoli, Bern Universität.
Historian of colonial-era Afghanistan.
Sana Haroon, University of Massachusets, Boston.
Historian focusing on the Indo-Afghanistan (now Afghanistan-Pakistan) borderlands.
Recommended read: Frontier of Faith.
Ayesha Khan, Collective for Social Science Research Karachi.
A number of publications, including research papers produced with the CSSR on Afghan nationals in Pakistan.
Recommended read: Afghan Refugee Women's Experience of Conflict and Disintegration.
Sab Gul Khattak, Sustainable Development Policy Institue, Islamabad.
Feminism, geopolitics, women in Afghanistan
Recommended read: Living on the Edges: Afghan Women and Refugee Camp Management in Pakistan.
Anthropologist with a focus on Afghans in Delhi, India.
Max Drephal, University of Suffolk.
Historian, with a focus on independence era-Afghanistan; engaged with theories of coloniality.
Recommended read: Afghanistan and the Coloniality of Diplomacy.
Timothy Nunan, Freie Universität, Berlin.
Historian of Afghanistan with a focus on Soviet archives.
Recommended read: Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan.
Martin Sökefeld, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
Anthropologist. Recent work on deportations in Germany.
Recommended read: "Nations Rebound: German Politics of Deporting Afghans."
Ceri Oeppen, University of Sussex.
Geographer examining human migration and refugees and state-led policies of hostility and migration management.
Alessandro Monsutti, Graduate Institute, Geneva.
Anthropologist with a focus on Afghan migration across Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Europe.
Recommended read: War and Migration.
Robert Crews, Stanford University.
Historian with a focus on Afghanistan, including on nation-building, media, and identity.
Recommended read: Under the Drones (with Shazad Bashir)
Nivi Manchanda, Queen Mary’s University London.
Afghanistan in colonial and neo-colonial and gendered imaginings.
Recommended read: Queering the Pashtun.
Benjamin Hopkins, John Hopkins University.
Leading historian of Afghanistan, who incorporates post-colonial critiques of empire Recommended read: The Frontier Crimes Regulation and Frontier Governmentality.
Robert Nichols, Stockton University.
Historian of Pashtun territories, migration, and governance.
Recommended read: A History of Pashtun Migration 1775-2006.
Elizabeth Leake, University of Leeds.
Historian with a focus on decolonisation and borders in South Asia.
Recommended read: The Defiant Border.
Abubakr Siddique, Independent journalist.
Contemporary focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan and questions of Pashtun identity and politics.
Recommended read: "The Pashtun Question."
Nile Green, UCLA.
Historian with a focus on religion, Sufism, South Asia.
Co-authors that centre on conflict, geopolitics, and the Taliban.
Recommended read: Poetry of the Taliban (with Felix Keuhn).
Ping-hsiu Alice Lin, Harvard University.
Socio-cultural anthropologist with interests in commodity chains, artisanship and labor, environmental colonialism and knowledge production, and China-Pakistan relations.
Recommended read: Precious Economies: Gems and Value-making from the Afghan-Pakistan Borderlands.
Sanaa Alimia, Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations.
Recommended read: Performing the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border through Refugee ID Cards.
Political Scientist with a focus on Afghan nationals in Pakistan; geopolitics, surveillance; urbanity; and informal economies.
Paolo Novak, SOAS.
Migration; asylum; constructions of “deserving” refugees; theoretical conceptualisations on migration.
Recommended read: Place and Afghan Refugees: A Contribution to Turton.
Nasreen Ghufran, University of Peshawar.
International relations; regional politics; refugees.
Recommended read: Afghans in Pakistan: A 'Protracted Refugee Situation.
Daryl Li, University of Chicago.
Anthropologist; war, law, migration, empire, and race with a focus on transregional linkages between the Middle East, South Asia, and the Balkans.
Recommended read: Taking the Place of Martyrs: Afghans and Arabs Under the Banner of Islam.
Simon Wolfgang Fuchs, University of Freiburg.
Global Islam; Shia thought; South Asia and the Middle East.
Nick Cullather, Indiana University
Historian of the Cold War.
Recommended read: Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State.
Think tank based out of Kabul.
Afghan Analysts Network, Kabul.
Think tank based out of Kabul.