A roundtable discussion with Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Phevos Simeonidis and Hope Barker
On Sept 20, The Center for European Studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick hosted a conversation about the colonial frames through which conflicts in Afghanistan have been framed and propelled, and about the obstacles that Afghan refugees face at Europe’s ever more brutally policed borders.
Shah Mahmoud Hanifi is Professor of History at James Madison University where he teaches courses on the Middle East and South Asia. Hanifi received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His dissertation formed the basis of a Gutenberg-e Prize from the American Historical Association that resulted in his first book, Connecting Histories in Afghanistan (2009, 2011). Hanifi’s research and publications have addressed subjects including colonial political economy, the history of printing, the Pashto language, photography, cartography, animal and environmental studies, and Orientalism in Afghanistan. His recent edited book focuses on the early nineteenth-century British Indian scholar-administrator Mounstuart Elphinstone, and he is now working on a monograph that examines the environmental history of Afghanistan over the longue durée through water, wood, animals and food. Hanifi served as the Treasurer of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies from 2003-2015, and from 2017-2020 he served on the South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies and on the Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He now serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Afghanistan and as a Special Theme Editor on Afghanistan for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. In addition to the AHA, Professor Hanifi has received research grants from the Social Science Research Council, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the Asian Development Bank, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Hope Barker is the Senior Policy Analyst for the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). She holds an MSc in International Social and Public Policy from the London School of Economics, where her final thesis focussed on the criminalisation of movement through a case study of pushbacks over the Evros river border between Greece and Turkey. Hope has been working in the field with people-on-the-move in Greece since 2018, involved in both grassroots direct aid structures as well as engaging in advocacy work, and publishing analytical publications on EU migration policy.
Phevos Simeonidis is a researcher and human rights activist from Athens, Greece. He is an MA graduate from the Centre for Research Architecture and the acting director of Disinfaux Collective with his work focusing on the far/alt-right online, militarized border regimes, and human rights violations in the external borders of the EU. He is also a member of the Ideas and Futures advisory board.