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Anglo-Afghan Wars and State Building in Afghanistan

Anglo-Afghan Wars and State Building in Afghanistan

Chapter:
(p.110) Chapter Three Anglo-Afghan Wars and State Building in Afghanistan
Source:
Afghanistan
Author(s):
Thomas Barfield
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691145686.003.0004

This chapter examines the erosion of traditional elite authority and new models of modern state building in the nineteenth century. The Anglo-Afghan wars were the crucibles that transformed the Afghan state and society. Here, the focus is less on the wars themselves than the consequences they had for Afghanistan. In terms of foreign relations, the rulers of Afghanistan found themselves in the paradoxical state of becoming ever more dependent on the subsidies from the British raj even as they pushed the Afghan people to become more antiforeign. Domestically successive rulers sought to make the central government more powerful, but did not succeed until Amir Abdur Rahman took the throne in 1880. Understanding what he did and at what cost remains significant for Afghanistan today.

Keywords:   traditional elite authority, modern state building, Anglo-Afghan wars, foreign relations, Amir Abdur Rahman, Iron Amir

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