M. Jamil Hanifi


The validity, truth and truth value of the text and context of Euro-American, especially postmodern Anglo-American, ethnographies of Afghanistan, are rarely interrogated. A systematic scrutiny of these ethnographies reveals how prolonged blind acceptance of faulty, distorted, misinterpreted, and cooked-up information buttressed by the authority of “fieldwork” has been produced and reproduced in widely circulated packages of pseudo-knowledge about the peoples and cultures of Afghanistan. Various degrees and forms of this tradition of production and reproduction are available in virtually all postmodern Anglo-American ethnographies of Afghanistan. Some instances of pseudo-knowledge about Afghanistan have been interrogated elsewhere (Hanifi 2000, 2004, 2005, 2011). This essay offers a culturally informed scrutiny of a concocted “Pashtun couple” stored in photographs embedded in a postmodern Anglo-American ethnography of Afghanistan. 


Anthropology of Afghanistan, Deconstruction, Ethnographic Imperialism, Misrepresentation.

Full Text:



Canfield, Robert L. (2004). ‘A Commentary on Jamil Hanifi’s Review’. American Anthropologist, 106(4), 786.

Clifford, James. (1983a). ‘On Ethnographic Authority’. Representations, 1(2), 118-146.

Clifford, James. (1983b). ‘Power and Dialogue in Ethnography: Marcel Griaule’s Initiation’. In Observers Observed: Essays on Ethnographic Fieldwork. George W. Stocking, Jr., (Eds). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 121-156.

Coleman, Sydney R. and Rajiv Coleman. (2006). ‘The anatomy of the aging face: volume loss and changes in 3-dimentional topography’. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 26(1)-Supplement: S4-S9.

Debets, G. F. (1970). Physical Anthropology of Afghanistan: I-II. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum. (Includes 97 facial photographs of men taken by Louis Dupree, 67-166.

Douglas, Mary. (1966). Purity and Danger: An analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. London: Rutledge.

Eickelman, Dale F. (1989). The Middle East: An anthropological approach. (second edition). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Eickelman, Dale F. (1998). The Middle East and Central Asia: An anthropological approach (third edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Eickelman, Dale F. (2002). The Middle East and Central Asia: An anthropological approach (fourth edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Ferdinand, Klaus. (2006). Afghan nomads: Caravans, conflicts and trade in Afghanistan and British India 1800-1980. Copenhagen: Rhodos International Science and Arts.

Feyerabend, Paul. (1988). Against Method. New York: Verso.

Frederiksen, Birthe. (1996). Caravans and trade in Afghanistan: The changing life of the nomadic Hazarbuz. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Grima, Benedicte. (1992). ‘Review, Nancy Tapper, 1991, Bartered Brides: Politics, gender and marriage in an Afghan tribal society [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press]’. The Annals of the American Academy 524, 200-201.

Hall, Edward T. (1969). The Hidden Dimension. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

Headland, T. (ed). (1992). The Tasaday Controversy: Assessing the Evidence. Washington, DC. American Anthropological Association.

Herzfeld, M. (2001). ‘Common Sense, Anthropology of’. International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences 4, 2283-

New York: Elsevier.

Holmes, Rebecca B. (1983). ‘Shabona: Scandal or Superb Social Science?’. American Anthropologist, 85(3), 664-667.

Houtman, Gustaaf. (2014, March 13). Personal communication.

Lindisfarne (Tapper), Nancy. (2008). ‘Starting from below: Fieldwork, gender and imperialism now’. In Taking Sides: Ethics, Politics and Fieldwork in Anthropology. Armbruster, H. & Laerke, A., (Eds). New York: Berghahn Books, 23-44.

Lindisfarne (Tapper), Nancy. (2012). ‘Exceptional Pashtuns? Class politics, imperialism and historiography’. In Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economyalong the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier.

Hopkins, B.D. & Marsden M (Eds). New York: Columbia University Press. 119-133.

Lindisfarne, Nancy & Jonathan Neale. (2013a). ‘Gender for the 99 percent’. Anthropology Today, 29(5), 13-16.

Lindisfarne, Nancy & Jonathan Neale. (2013b). ‘What gender does’. International Socialism 139, 123-153.

MacKenzie, Charles Finch. (1850). Zeila; The Fair Maid of Cabul. London: Palmer and Clayton.

Neale, Jonathan. (1981). ‘The Afghan Tragedy’. International Socialism 2(12), 1-32.

Neale, Jonathan. (1988). ‘Afghanistan: The horse changes riders’. Capital & Class 12, 34-48.

Neale, Jonathan. (2002). ‘The long torment of Afghanistan’. International Socialism 93(20), 31-57.

Neale, Jonathan. (2008a). ‘Ranting and silence: The contradictions of writing for activists and academics’. In Taking Sides: Ethics, Politics and Fieldwork in Anthropology. Armbruster, H. & and

Laerke, A., (Eds.). New York: Berghahn Books, 217-255.

Neale, Jonathan. (2008b). ‘Afghanistan: The case against the “good war”’. International Socialism 120.

Needham, Rodney. (1985). Exemplars. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Olesen, Asta. (1994). Afghan Craftsmen: The culture of three itinerant communities. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Pedersen, Gorm. (1994). Afghan nomads in Transition: A century of change among the Zala Khan Khel. New York: Thames and Husdon.

Ramanathan, Narayan & Rama Chellapa. (2006). ‘Face verification across age progression’. IEEE Transaction on image processing, 15(11), 3349-3361.

Rao, Aparna. (1981). ‘Qui sont les Jatd’Afghanistan’. Afghanistan Journal, 8(2), 55-64.

Rao, Aparna. (1982). Les Gorbatd’Afghanistan. Paris. Edition Recherchesur les civilizations.

Rao, Aparna. (1986). ‘Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Images and Identity’. In Die Ethnichen Gruppen Afghanistans. Orywal, E., (Ed). Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 254-283.

Robin, Ron. (2004). Scandals and Scoundrals: Seven Cases that Shook the Academy. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Silverstein, Michael. (1985). ‘Review of D. Parkin (ed.) Semantic Anthropology’. American Ethnologist, 12(4), 795-796.

Spencer, Jonathan. 1989. “Anthropology as a Kind of Writing”, Man (N. S.) 24(1), 145-164.

Spencer, Jonathan. 1996. ‘Scandals, anthropological. In Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Barnard, Alan & Spencer, Jonathan (Eds.), New York: Routledge, 501-503.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. (1988). ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’. In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Nelson, C. & Grossberg, L., (Eds.). USA: University of Illinois Press, 271-313

Tapper (Lindisfarne), Nancy Starr Self. (1979). ‘Marriage and social organization among the Durrani Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan’.

Ph. D. thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Tapper (Lindisfarne), Nancy Starr Self. (1991). Bartered Brides: politics, gender and marriage in an Afghantribal society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Van Beek, Walter E. A. (1991). ‘Dogon Restudied: A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule’. Current Anthropology, 32(2), 139-167.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 M. Jamil Hanifi

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Journal of South Asian Studies
ISSN: 2307-4000 (Online), 2308-7846 (Print)
© EScience Press. All Rights Reserved.