Exporting Racism: Imperial Interventions and the Occupation with Pashtun Culture

  • Lailooma Mayar WardakEmail author
Part of the Critical Studies of Education book series (CSOE, volume 9)


This paper explores the racial dimensions of western military and political interventions and asks whether the sociology of race and ethnicity can provide the critical lens by which to understand conflict and the evolution of ethnic tensions in present day Afghanistan. Drawing on the sociology of race and ethnicity I argue that ethnic conflict in Afghanistan is not disconnected from western imperial projects in the region which frame the Pashtun peoples as the pre-modern and violent ‘bad Muslims’. I consider colonial texts related to British India and examine the role of colonial policies of aggression in framing Pashtuns as the cultural ‘Others’. I also draw attention to contemporary discourses about the post 9–11 invasion of Afghanistan and show the linkages between, racial discourses exported by western military and political interventions, and local articulations of Pashtun ethnic identity. I argue that local articulations of Pashtun ethnic as cultural ‘Others’ are not isolated from the broader contexts of colonial power and imperial legacies of domination. Rather, knowledge about the Pashtun identity is closely linked to racialized discourses exported by imperial interventions.


Imperial Oppression Orientalism Ethnic identity Colonialism ‘Othering’ Racism Western hegemony War on Terror Pashtun Afghanistan 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Justice EducationOntario Institute for Studies in Education, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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