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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Undergraduate Course: Unfolding Afghanistan in a Globalised Context (IMES10110)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course critically examines the main societal features of contemporary Afghanistan in the dynamics of global context. It unfolds how the crucial aspects of society can be understood and situated within the networks of power and interactions globally. Since the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the media coverage of Afghanistan has been reduced to certain aspects of Islam such as the radicalism and violence of select Muslim groups. This course challenges such a bias by providing a more complete picture of contemporary Afghan society in a larger context. Students will benefit from critical concepts and obtain in-depth knowledge about globalizing Afghanistan and its crucial aspects such as modern history, politics, conflicts, religion, ethnicity, gender, and forced migration. The course applies an interdisciplinary approach, and students will read and discuss materials and scholarly work from various disciplines.
Course description Marked as one of the most Muslim-majority conflict-torn countries in the world, Afghanistan is located at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. In this course, students will critically engage with debates about Afghanistan using various theoretical concepts such as globalization, transnationalism, and postcolonialism and develop in-depth insights into the significant attributes of society's social and political structure in relation to global dynamics and influences. The course will incorporate various approaches and research across disciplines (e.g. sociology, anthropology, political sciences, and history). The lectures/seminars will be organized thematically to examine topics such as Afghanistan's modern history (since 19th century), identity politics (Muslimness and ethnicity), gender and women's rights, forced migration and diaspora, and relations with regional neighbours (such as Pakistan and Iran).

This course will be delivered through a mix of lectures and seminar discussions. Various materials will be used in lectures and seminars including theoretical debates, articles, and visual sources. Students are expected to participate interactively and reflect critically on the readings and assignments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify and describe the major components of Afghanistan's social and political structure.
  2. Contextualize and analyze the impacts of global dynamics on the social, political, and cultural life in contemporary Afghanistan.
  3. Critically evaluate scholarly literature and debates related to the topics of the course.
  4. Apply the empirical knowledge and analytical skills acquired during the course to conduct independent research related to relevant topics and themes.
Reading List

Barfield, Thomas J. 2010. Afghanistan: A cultural and Political History, Princeton studies in Muslim politics. Princeton, N.J. ; Princeton University Press.
Jalalzai, Zubeda, and David Jefferess. 2011. Globalizing Afghanistan Terrorism, War, and the Rhetoric of Nation Building, American encounters/global interactions. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Manchanda, Nivi. 2020. Imagining Afghanistan : the History and Politics of Imperial Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Seddon, David. 2003. "Imperial Designs: A Deep History of Afghanistan." Critical Asian Studies 35 (2):175-194. doi: 10.1080/1467271032000090107.


Barfield, Thomas J. 2012. "Sharia in Afghanistan." The review of faith & international affairs 10 (4):45-52. doi: 10.1080/15570274.2012.739886.
Centlivres-Demont, Micheline, ed. 2015. Afghanistan: Identity, Society and Politics since 1980, Library of Modern Middle East studies ; 165. London: I.B. Tauris.
Edwards, David B. 2017. Caravan of Martyrs : Sacrifice and Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan. 1st ed. ed. Berkerley: University of California Press.
Heath, Jennifer, and Ashraf Zahedi. 2011. Land of the Unconquerable The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Manchanda, Nivi. 2018. "The Imperial Sociology of the 'Tribe' in Afghanistan." Millennium 46 (2):165-189. doi: 10.1177/0305829817741267.
Monsutti, Alessandro. 2016. War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan. Translated by Patrick Camiller, Middle East Studies: History, Politics, and law. London: Routledge.
Shahrani, M. Nazif, ed. 2018. Modern Afghanistan: The Impact of 40 Years of War. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Further Reading and Visual Sources:

Saikal, Amin, Ravan Farhadi, and Kirill Nourzhanov. 2004. Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival. London & New York: I.B.Tauris.
Documentary: Khaja, Nagieb (director). 2013. Mit Afghanistan: livet i den forbudte zone [My Afghanistan: Life in the Forbidden Zone], 87 min. N. Det danske Filminstitut.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Critical thinking, analysis and evaluation skills
- Curiosity for learning and engaging with different perspectives and contexts
- Oral and written communication skills
- Independent and reflective learning
- Contribution to class discussions and collaboration with the academic community
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sayed Mahdi Mosawi
Tel: (0131 6)50 6686
Course secretaryMrs Anne Budo
Tel: (0131 6)50 4161
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