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B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ph.D., University of Michigan

Fields and Specialties

Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia, principally since 1500;

economic and social history,

and cultural and historical anthropology

Teaching Areas

Modern Middle East, Global South Asia,

Afghanistan, colonialism,

and world history

Research Interests

Afghanistan, the Persianate World, Pashto,

colonialism, nationalism, tribal history, nomadic societies,

Islamic urbanism, historical linguistics, migration, diasporas,

identity formation, cartography, photography,

animal and environmental studies


Social Science Research Council,

Council of American Overseas Research Centers,

American Historical Association,

American Institute of Afghanistan Studies,

Asian Development Bank,

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Select Publications and Presentations


Connecting Histories in Afghanistan ( Gutenberg-e 2008Stanford 2011)

Mountstuart Elphinstone in South Asia (Oxford/Hurst 2019)

Journal Articles

Water in Afghanistan: A Modern History (Water History, 2024).

Deciphering the History of Modern Afghanistan (Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, 2022)

Imperial Cartography and National Mapping in Afghanistan (International Journal of Middle East Studies, 2022) 

 "Local Experiences of Imperial Cultures" (Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 2021)

"The Battle for Minds in Cold War Afghanistan"  (Iran and the Caucasus, 2021)   

"Roundtable Papers" in the journal Afghanistan(Afghanistan, 2021)

The Pashtun Counter Narrative (Middle East Critique, 2016)

Shah Shuja’s Hidden History (South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, 2012)

Impoverishing a Colonial Frontier (Iranian Studies, 2004)

Book Chapters (Printed)

" A Book History of  An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul ” (Hurst, 2019)

A Genealogy of Orientalism in Afghanistan: The Colonial Image Lineage” (Brill, 2018)

A History of Linguistic Boundary Crossing within and around Pashto” in  Beyond Swat (Hurst & Columbia, 2013)

Quandaries of the Afghan Nation in  Under the Drones (Harvard, 2012)

Henry George Raverty and the Colonial Marketing of Pashto,” in  Knowing India (Yoda [New Delhi], 2011.

Online Essays

Environmental War Crimes in Afghanistan, South Asia Avant-Garde:  A Dissident Literary Anthology 

Colonialism, War and Governance in Afghanistan, The Long View (Journal of the Islamic Human Rights Commission) 

What Next for Afghanistan, Royal Society of the Arts Journal 

Elephants in Afghanistan:  Surveying the History of a Pachyderm Frontier

Photography and Orientalism in Morocco

Camels in Nineteenth-Century Afghanistan and Australia

History of Pashto Printing and Resistance to Print

The Hawala System and the Afghan Diaspora

Shi’ism in Contemporary Afghanistan in AHA Perspectives

Orientalism in Contemporary Afghanistan in E-International Relations 

Colonial Knowledge in Contemporary Afghanistan at the Middle East Institute 


Translations and the History of Afghanistan:  The American Imperium, 2001-2021, The Association for the Study of Persianate Societies and Jagiellonian University

Comparing Empires in Afghanistan, Duke University, December 2021

Democracy, Education and Imperialism and in the United State and Afghanistan, JMU Democracy in Peril Lecture Series, September 2021

Orientalist Representations of Afghanistan and Local Resistance to Them, Keynote Address for Representing Afghanistan Exhibit at Piyadasa Gallery, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, July 2021 

A Deep History of Water in Afghanistan, Michigan State University Muslim Studies Conference, 2020

CONSALD lecture in March 2020 "A Source-Based Research Biography in Afghanistan Studies,"

"Ludwig W. Adamec and the Architecture of Afghanistan Studies: Building a National History on Transnational Realities," University of Arizona Center for Middle Eastern Studies, February 2020. 

Postcards from Afghanistan, JMU Libraries 2019

Climate Change in Afghanistan, JMU Libraries 2019

Cartographic History of Afghanistan:  The Early Modern and Colonial Periods, Library of Congress, June 2019.

Connecting Histories in and Beyond Afghanistan:  Necessities, Possibilities, Limitations, Yale University, February 2019.

Keynote Address at the Afghanistan in Academia: Knowledge and Representation Workshop , SOAS, 2018.

Early Twentieth Century Photography in Afghanistan:  Reflections on the Chronologies, Geographies and Technologies of Orientalism and NationalismShanghai University, 2018. 


Founding Coordinator,  Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations Interdisciplinary Minor 

Faculty Initiator, South Asian Studies Minor-in-Formation

Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Middle East Studies (2023-present)

Member, South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (2017-2020)

Member, Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Indian Studies (2017-2020) 

Additional Scholarly Activities Interviews, Profiles, and Podcasts

American Institute of Indian Studies Mughal Persian Workshop Co-Organizer, Lucknow, India, August 2019. 

The Mountstuart Elphinstone Project(2015-2017)

Dr. Hanifi was interviewed by Democracy Matters at JMU, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the History Channel, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and the New Arab, The Peel News, The East is a Podcast, and Association for Asian Studies 

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