Afghanistan: The Next Generation of Scholars

Understanding Afghanistan has been a critical need over the past two decades and will continue to be important in the coming years.  Yet, the necessary scholarship that can provide better understanding of the country remained underdeveloped both within and outside the country for decades. With the exception of a brief open period between 1960 and 1978, scholarship on Afghanistan remained closed and at best peripheral.  This relatively brief period provided most of the scholarship of the country pre-2001.  As Thomas Barfield noted in his keynote address to the workshop, since 2001 there has been a resurgence in the study of Afghanistan.  A critical mass of new scholars has developed, both international and Afghan, that can understand the country across many disciplines.

To provide an opportunity for academic development for the next generation of scholars on Afghanistan, the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS), the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University hosted a two-day workshop in New York City from February 15-17, 2018.  The partners invited both international and Afghan scholars to the workshop to present new research and devise new methods to support the growth of scholarship.

During the workshop, scholars presented seventeen papers that now reflect the much wider breadth of topic and discipline that of scholarship in and on Afghanistan.  These papers highlighted culture, history, politics, security, and education, among other topics.  Following each presentation, other peers critiqued each work with the aim of helping to hone the research and provide new collaborative opportunities.

Following the conclusion of the last panel, participants discussed other activities that could foster further scholarship.  Some options discussed included better coordination at academic conferences and meetings, sharing publishing resources and experiences, writing more papers in local languages, and creating resource depositories.  The organizations involved in the workshop hope that some of these ideas will further sustain momentum of academic development of Afghanistan scholarship.


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