ORIENTALISM AND THE DEPICTION OF MUSLIMS: A TALE OF TWO CITIES IN ELPHINSTONE’S “KINGDOM OF CAUBUL”
Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859) was the first British Envoy to the Kingdom of Kabul in 1808–1809. He was deputed by the East India Company to carve an alliance with Afghanistan to counter possible French and Russian military march against British India which was the jewel of the British Empire. With other members of the mission, Elphinstone went as far as Peshawar where he spent four months and collected primary and secondary data on the human and natural geography, economics, politics, history and inhabitants of Peshawar and Kabul valleys in early 19th century in his travelogue, kingdom of Caubul. That was the era of the tournament of shadows between British and Russian Empires for political ascendancy in South and Central Asian region. In that game of high stakes Tsarist Russia occupied Central Asia and British India expanded its western borders to the Durand Line. The first and second Anglo-Afghan wars were launched by the British Raj to expand its influence to Afghanistan. By 1820s the British conceptualized Afghanistan as the highway of conquests. Elphinstone reflections on Pakhtun way of life and his comments on the government and society of the region mirror his perception and approach. The paper is an attempt to objectively analyze Elphinstone`s views in the Kingdom of Caubul on the region and its inhabitants in the context of Edwards Said`s Orientalism.