Documents & Sources
Writing the history of Afghanistan in the 20th century - much less the history of mass murder and state destruction in the 1980s - raises a number of questions about sources and methodologies that any serious historian must grapple with. Given the fact that Afghanistan constituted a developmental object for so many different 20th century states - the USSR, the USA, West Germany ... - and the fact that the 1970s and 1980s led to the near-destruction of the country, any number of national regimes of information management and cartography have been applied to this piece of Central Asian real estate. More prosaically, given the dicey conditions on the ground in Kabul - even more so in provincial centers like Mazar-i Sharif, Qandahar, Jalalabad, or Herat - traditional archival research methods are a challenge. Add to that the linguistic patchwork of Afghanistan - Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, Dardic languages, to name a few - and the picture resembles an archive of Babel. How do we write the history of this country?
While not claiming to answer all of these questions, this section of the exhibit raises some of the myriad concerns and questions one has to face when writing the history of Afghanistan. It also provides background into some of the sources of quantitative data that form the backbone to this online exhibit.