University of Leicester
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Conflict and change among the Khyber Afridis: A study of British policy and tribal society on the north-west frontier, 1839-1947.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:13 authored by R. O. Christensen
This thesis is concerned with the relationship between one of the most important of the 'independent' Pakhtun tribes of the North-West Frontier and the British-Indian government during its century of administration of this strategically sensitive region.. The study is based mainly on previously unconsulted records in the India Office Library and Records, London, and in archives in Pakistan.. Additional material has been obtained through interviews with tribesmen, and with past and present frontier officials. Following the Introduction, the thesis is divided into four parts Part I surveys the most important aspects of tribal social organisation. Particular attention is given to those features of the Afridi economy, value-system and political structure which influenced or were influenced by the tribe's relationship with external government. The analysis, although based largely on historical material, includes a critical examination of relevant anthropological theory. Part II examines the strategic considerations underlying British policy on the North-West Frontier and government efforts to establish a satisfactory system of tribal 'management'. There is a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of such measures as the patient of tribal allowances and attempts to work through the traditional tribal leadership. Part III considers the impact of demographic growth, the opening up of new sources of income, and the development of new means of communication on Afridi society. In the long run such changes contributed to political tensions within the tribe, and generated new forms of conflict between tribe and government. Part IV looks at the main areas of conflict between the Afridis and the British administration, including such matters as tribal raiding. There is an analytical case- study of the tribal rising of 1897. Considerable attention is also given to the evolution of Afridi politics in the 20th century, under the influence of such factors as Afghan policy and Indian nationalism.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Historical Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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