CFP-Afghan (-istani) – Nation and Narration in Post-Colonial Postmodernities

full name / name of organization: 
Mariam Popal, PhD - University of Bayreuth
contact email: 

Afghan (-istani) – Nation and Narration in Post-Colonial Postmodernities

"What I want to emphasize in that large and luminal image of the nation with which I began is a particular ambivalence that haunts the idea of the nation, the language of those who write of it and the lives of those who live it. It is an ambivalence that emerges from a growing awareness that, despite the certainty with which historians speak of the 'origins' of nation as a sign of the 'modernity' of society, the cultural temporality of the nation inscribes a much more transitional social reality."
(Homi K. Bhabha, Nation and Narration – Introduction)

Although much has been written about representation and knowledge production and despite the fact that 'Postcolonial Studies' has emerged as a field of study, non-western worlds still are often studied as objectified entities and sometimes even evoked as 'cases' from which to learn. These rather ethnographic and orientalist approaches willy-nilly place 'the other' in a special and temporal isolation from the world and history, and also from what is called modernity, as if other cultures do not contribute, create and supersede histories and modernities in involved and committed ways. This is also true for (the rather meager) studies on Afghanistan despite the fact (or perhaps precisely because of the fact) that Afghanistan is a regular topic in the media and the politics. In this book we try to differ from such traditional approaches in organizing 'intelligible' understandings of what 'Afghanistan' is and how its people and history has to be perceived. We would like instead to carve out discursive space for studies on and from Afghanistan and its Diasporas that place the country and its narrations in the middle of the conglomerate of past and present threads of (academic, philosophical, aesthetic) narratives and discourses that we call (post-) coloniality and (post-) modernity, in short - the modern history (of a vanishing present) we are living in. It is thereby an interdisciplinary afghancentric approach in that it wants to shed light on
* the ways through which 'Afghanistan' and its history is utilized to generate nationalistic representations of 'Iran'. This is especially of interest to us not only when it comes to Persian sources and in the works of academics of Iranian descent but also in Middle Eastern Studies and so called 'Iranian Studies' as such which have adopted a rather irancentric-hegemonic attitude to approaches on Afghanistan (e.g. the construction and evocation of a past geographical 'Iran' and a modern 'Iran' or the word 'Persian' for all existing modern variants of a language, that sets Iranian Farsi as the norm and Afghan Dari as its variant).
*Stereotypings of 'Afghans' (as Pashtuns or Hazaras or else and as Muslims only) in Anglophone, Persian, Pakistani or Indian Literature and Film that may have an influence and converge with current media representations of Afghan People as either 'the exotic medieval evil' or the 'poor illiterate victims' in times of war (on terror),
*(Othered, Shii, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or else) Afghan narratives and deconstructions of Afghan national identity and history and its 'beginnings',
*Modern Afghan (Diaspora) Literature, Film, TV-Programs and spaces of mourning, utopian thinking, irony and comedy,
*(Internet) Spaces of Afghan Diasporas and the postmodern project of 'being/becoming' a nation (or falling apart) through narration in war.
Afghan writers are especially invited to contribute with a text (2000-2500 word) on any of the above topics. A selected number of these texts will be translated into English and included throughout the book. The language of the publication is English. If there are any questions or in case you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact us per e.mail
We would be happy about contributions from a broad variety of academic fields; contributions from the fields of Cultural Studies, Cultural Theory, Queer and Feminist Studies are especially welcome.
You are cordially invited to submit your abstracts (of a maximum of 300 words) with a short biography by Dec 15th 2014 with the headword CfA-Afghan nation/narrations in the subject-line to:,,
We would ask for the submission of your full contributions by May 15th 2015.


Mariam Popal works in the fields of (Anglophone) Literary Studies, Literary Theory, Cultural Studies, Critical Whiteness Studies and Postcolonial Studies. She is currently working on her second book (Habilitation) at the Department of English and American Studies/University of Bayreuth and is at the present Post-doc Research Fellow at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies. Some of her publications include: (2006) Sharia as Religious Law – a Construct? Reflections on the Analysis of Islamic Law based on Methods of Comparative Law and from a Post-Colonial Perspective, Peter Lang, (2007) Head Scarf Hip Hop – Bodies Narrating (Alter) Stories, in: Kien Nghi Ha, Nicola Lauré al-Samarai, Sheila Myrosekar (eds.), Re/visionen – Postkoloniale Perspektiven von People auf Color auf Rassismus, Kulturpolitik und auf Widerstand in Deutschland, Unrast Verlag. and (2011) Objectivity – Desiring Subjects, in: Susan Arndt (Ed.), Kolonialismus, Rassismus und Weißsein im Wissensarchiv Deutscher Sprache, Unrast-Verlag.

Abbas Poya, studied Islamic Studies, political Science, and Comparative religion in Hamburg and Damascus. After receiving his Ph.D., Poya served as an adjunct professor at Hamburg University between 2002 and 2004. In 2003 he worked as a research fellow at the Afghanistan Academy of Science. Between 2004 and 2010 he worked as a research assistant at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies of Freiburg University. At the same Department he worked 2011 as a substitute professor. 2011-2012 he researched as a junior fellow at FRIAS, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, about "Language, Religion and Nationalism. The Movement of Young Afghans and the Construction of the Afghan Nation". Since 2013 he worked as head of the research group "Norms, Normativity and Norm Changes" at the University of Erlangen Nuernberg. Selected publications include Das Unbehagen in der Islamwissenschaft. Ein klassisches Fach im Scheinwerferlicht von Medien und Öffentlichkeit (Discontent in the Islamic Studies: A Classical Discipline in the Public Eye and Media) (2008; edited with Maurus Reinkowski), Bielefeld; Perspektiven zivilgesellschaftlicher Strukturen in Afghanistan. Ethische Neutralität, ethnische Parität und Frauenrechte in der Verfassung der Islamischen Republik Afghanistan (Perspectives of Structure of Civil Society in Afghanistan: Ethical Neutrality, Ethnic Parity and Women's Rights in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), published in: Orient 44/2003, S. 367-384; "Afghanistan" published in: Islam in the World Today. A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society, (ed.) Werner Ende & Udo Steinbach, New York & London 2010.

Anders Widmark is a lecturer in Persian, Dari, and Pashto language and literature at Uppsala University, Sweden. Following studies in Indology (Sanskrit, Hindi, and Tibetan) and Oriental Studies at Stockholm and Uppsala University, he received his PhD in Iranian Languages (2011). He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University. A selection of publications includes: "Voicing the Unvoiced: Readings of Contemporary Women's Writing in Pashto" published in The Dynamics of Change in Conflict Societies: Pakhtun Region in Perspective, (ed.) M. Ayub Jan and Shahida Aman, Peshawar: University of Peshawar, Pakistan, 2013 (pp. 15–32); "Elegisk terror: poesimässande talibaner och diktande krigsherrar" (Elegiac Terror: Poetry Chanting Taliban and Warlord Lyricism), published in: Iran: 4000 år av historia, konst, religion, litteratur och språk, (ed.) Ashk Dahlén och Carina Jahani, Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2014, Reports on Asian and African Studies 4 (pp. 119-127); Voices at the Borders, Prose on the Margins : Exploring the Contemporary Pashto Short Story in a Context of War and Crisis, Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2011. Widmark was also the guest editor and translator of May 2011: Writing from Afghanistan, Words without Borders: The Online Magazine for International Literature. His main areas of research include: Literary Studies (contemporary Persian/Dari/Tadjik literature in general and Pashto literature in particular), Women's Writing, Cultural Studies, Philology, as well as Translation Studies.