Shah Shuja’s Hidden History and Its Implications for the Historiography of Afghanistan

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The essay uses colonial archival materials from the Archives of the Punjab Province in Lahore to address the thirty-year period between the two reigns of the Durrani Afghan Monarch Shah Shuja (r. 1803-1809 and 1839-1842). Focusing on the 1809-1839 period, the first part of the essay deals with Mountstuart Elphinstone’s 1809 diplomatic mission and Shuja’s flight from Peshawar. The second part of the article considers the communication between Shah Shuja’s primary wife and colonial officials that culminated in Shuja’s receipt of housing and a monthly British pension in Ludhiana in 1816. The third part of the essay treats Shuja’s aborted attempt to recapture Kabul without British support in 1832-1833 and its consequences for him in Ludhiana. Shuja’s lack of Pashto credentials, his dependency on British capital, and his circular migration pattern are viewed as normative rather than exceptional for Afghan rulers, and as such this essay contributes to a revision of the traditional historiography of Afghanistan that views the country through the incompatible lenses of Pashtun ethnic domination of the Afghan state structure and Pashtun tribal resistance to Afghan state formation.

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Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, "Shah Shuja’s ‘Hidden History’ and its Implications for the Historiography of Afghanistan", South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal [Online], Free-Standing Articles, Online since 14 May 2012. URL : http://samaj.revues.org/3384

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