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Comparing camels in Afghanistan and Australia: Industry and nationalism during the Long Nineteenth Century
The Camel Conference @ SOAS (2011)
  • Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, James Madison University
This paper compares the roles of camels and their handlers in state building projects in Afghanistan and Australia during the global ascendance of industrial production. Beginning in the mid-1880s the Afghan state-sponsored industrial project known as the mashin khana or Kabul workshops had significant consequences for camel-based commercial transport in and between Afghanistan and colonial India. Primary effects include the carriage of new commodities, new forms of financing and taxation, re-routing, and markedly increased state surveillance over camel caravans. In Australia the trans-continental railway and telegraph, and other projects involvingintra-continental exploration and mining, generated a series of in-migrations of Afghan camels and cameleers between the 1830s and 1890s. The port of Adelaide was the urban center most affected by Afghan camels and cameleers, and a set of new interior markets and settlements originate from these in-migrations. The contributions of Afghan camels and their handlers to state- building projects in nineteenth-century Afghanistan and Australia highlight their vital roles in helping to establish industrial enterprises, and the equally important point that once operational these industrial projects became agents in the economic marginalization of camels and the social stigmatization of the human labour associated with them.
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Shah Mahmoud Hanifi. "Comparing camels in Afghanistan and Australia: Industry and nationalism during the Long Nineteenth Century" The Camel Conference @ SOAS (2011)
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