How should we think of this as an example of migration of Afghans to other parts of South Asia? The first point is that mobility and migration are very prominent themes in the history of South Asia. By mobility I mean internal, maybe urban to rural, or north to south, and these kinds of movements can be for a variety of reasons: they can be for pilgrimage purposes, cultural, religious, economic, political, trade, and personal. In fact, that was how the Mogul Empire functioned. It circulated administrators through the system to engage and control this movement of people, goods, ideas etc.
|Published (Last):||12 October 2008|
|PDF File Size:||8.71 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||9.42 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
How should we think of this as an example of migration of Afghans to other parts of South Asia? The first point is that mobility and migration are very prominent themes in the history of South Asia. By mobility I mean internal, maybe urban to rural, or north to south, and these kinds of movements can be for a variety of reasons: they can be for pilgrimage purposes, cultural, religious, economic, political, trade, and personal.
In fact, that was how the Mogul Empire functioned. It circulated administrators through the system to engage and control this movement of people, goods, ideas etc.
External migration in South Asia can be of two very different types. The first is incoming migrants from outside of the region and the second is outgoing migrants from the region leaving.
To discuss either form of external migration we have to discuss where the boundaries of South Asia actually are, and in reference to the Kabuliwala it becomes a question of how Afghans historically fit into India, in other words, is this a kind of natural internal movement or is it a form of migration where an outsider is brought in.
Different disciplines tend to deal with questions of mobility and migration differently. I would say anthropologists probably tend to deal better with internal mobility, such rural-urban and seasonal nomadic movements. Historians tend to more effectively capture bigger pictures, perhaps more globally contextualised migrations. Tagore leaves us with good questions about the cultural place of the Kabuliwala, the location of Afghan identity in relation to the Indian identity, or identities, and how these communities take shape through various migratory and mobility-based practices over the longue duree.
What would have been their experience once they had arrived? Maybe this could be a form of money lending or just delayed payment for a commodity, or one of many other kinds of socio-fiscal transactions.
In fact, in the Kabuliwala story the relationship between the Kabuliwala and the small girl, Mini, is contextualised by the former gifting almonds and raisins to the latter. Indeed dried fruits and nuts raisins, apricots, almonds, pistachios, for example were historically key commodities marketed by Afghans in India.
To historically locate the Kabuliwala in Indian society, it helps to understand when Afghans came into historical view. This is a complex question that involves Islam in important ways, especially the expansion of Islam in South Asia that is routed through geographic Afghanistan beginning with the Ghaznavid Empire about 1, years ago.
The Ghaznavids inaugurated systematic Islamisation processes in north India, involving Turkic and Persian communities that moved through the area now known as Afghanistan, scooping up local Afghans and funnelling them into South Asia.
Thus, the deep history of the Kabuliwala revolves around about a millennium of various types of military, political, administrative and commercial migrations of Afghans into India. Most of the 5, Kabuliwala that live in Kolkata do not have passports. What would be the reason for this?
But what we have to remember, like everything related to Afghanistan, the numbers are always fuzzy. But 5, is a good estimate according to the photographers of the exhibition on the Kabuliwala , Moska and Nazes. This administrative problem of the absence of passports has historical roots in the progressively rigid borderisation of South Asia. At this time, of course, there are new international and global circumstances that leave the British restricting the movement of many mobile and migratory peoples in South Asia while facilitating the global circulation of other groups such as martial and agricultural castes.
Administratively they would still have been able to move much more easily in the late-nineteenth than in the early 20th century when Afghans faced increasing numbers of restrictions about where they could go and what they could do in British India.
British Indian disarmament policies and pasture taxes were huge points of contention with migratory Afghans who were subjected to increasing forms of colonial surveillance and coercion as their mobility was increasingly limited.
Was Kolkata the main destination for Afghan migrants before the British began restricting the freedom of movement in South Asia? If we look at the demography of the migrants in the first instance a lot of the historical records are of individual males, not in a family unit, but of individuals moving into India for seasonal labour and commercial opportunities.
There were two types of Afghan labourers: those going back and forth biannually, and others that that settled more or less permanently. Intermarriage can lead to questions of citizenship and state paperwork that speaks to the importance of how people textually experience the modern state, and how documents and lack thereof can structure social and spatial arrangements for migrant and host communities in important ways.
Historically quite visible. In Mumbai, the Kabuliwalas would have been seen as security guards for these mills. They are perceived as outsiders, which may indicate that indeed Afghanistan is apart from India in a cultural sense. Their experiences will be very different. What do these historic stories of migration of Afghans across South Asia, and particularly in this case India, symbolise?
What can they teach us about migration in ? The experience of the Kabuliwala speaks in the contemporary period to how most states really are just not good at managing migration through their territory.
The Kabuliwala represents a dilemma between the territorial ethos of the nation state and the migratory history of the world that has been predicted on mobility and connections and cultural hybridity — things that nations and nationalism are somehow afraid of for whatever reason. Admission is free. Open: Tuesday — Sunday: Closed: Mondays and Bank Holidays. Please write to southasia lse. Bad Behavior has blocked access attempts in the last 7 days.
Kabuliwala is the heart-rending childhood tale of innocence, love & fate
Kabuliwala … O kabuliwala. These calls of a little girl to her older Pathan friend keep echoing in mind even after the episode is over. An Afghani Pathan, Rehman had come from his trouble stricken country to earn a decent income by trading dry fruits, shawls, etc. The father of the girl is amused by this unique friendship between the little one, who chatters non-stop, and her Kabuliwala, who has a patient ear for all stories of the little one and who whole-heartedly joins her in her little girly games. Quite an irony it is when all of a sudden, after a tiff with a customer about payments which leads to his murder, the Pathan is taken away by the police to be sent to jail.
Kabuliwala – Stories by Rabindranath Tagore (3)
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions.