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The Third Anglo-Afghan War, 1919

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In early May 1919, Afghanistan invaded India, its ruler calling on the frontier tribes to rise and join their Hindu and Muslim brethren in the Indian hinterland in overthrowing the British Raj. The outcome of the one-month conflict was less than apocalyptic and the crisis has all but slipped into the historical mists. But there are grounds for re-evaluating the significance of the Third Anglo- Afghan War. It is possible to argue that it posed a far greater threat to the stability of India than historians have generally recognised. And there is a case for placing the events in the wider context of the ebb and flow of empires brought about, or accelerated, by the First World War. Far from being a “frontier sideshow”, to quote the military historian G.N. Molesworth, the crisis was part of an extensive post-war drive for self determination by people seeking an escape from great power colonisation or domination.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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