Benjamin D. Hopkins is a specialist in modern South Asian history, in particular that of Afghanistan, as well as British imperialism. His research focuses on the role of the colonial state in creating the modern states inhabiting the region. His first book, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, examined the efforts of the British East India Company to construct an Afghan state in the early part of the nineteenth century and provides a corrective to the history of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ His second book, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, co-authored with anthropologist Magnus Marsden, pairs a complex historical narrative with rich ethnographic detail to conceptualize the Afghan frontier as a collection of discrete fragments which create continually evolving collage of meaning. He has additionally co-edited Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier with Magnus Marsden.

Project Summary

The project examines the role of the ‘frontier’ both as a space and governing category of the colonial state, and its lasting effects on the post-colonial states of South Asia. It considers how the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier has been historically conceived, actualized and governed by state authorities, as well as local inhabitants, from the late nineteenth century onwards. The colonial origins of the frontier and its patterns of governance continue to shape the lived reality there today. Without a better understanding of this region’s complicated past, the US and its allies can hope to do little better in its complex present.

Major Publications

Fragments of the Afghan Frontier (Oxford University Press 2011)

The making of modern Afghanistan (PalgraveMacmillan 2008/2012)

Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan/Pakistan frontier (Oxford 2012)