First published in 1976, this Routledge Revivals reissue presents an analysis of the Swat Pathans, the people of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, who belong administratively to Pakistan despite being a fiercely independent group, with their own codes and ways of life. Akbar S. Ahmed, who knows the Swat Pathans well through his family connections, presents a clear and sophisticated analysis of their complex society. The study provides an anthropological and critical re-examination of the ethnography of the Swat Pathans and the author suggests specific alternative models of social organization.
The book also represents an important contribution to the general debate in the social sciences between the ‘methodological individualists’ and the ‘methodological holists’, and challenges some of the theoretical and methodological premises in anthropology. In particular the author is critical of Professor Fredrik Barth’s study of Swat Pathans, for he believes that the ‘Swat models’ have inadvertently become the basis for generalized, and often incorrect, understanding of models of Pathan socio-political organization in the social sciences.
‘This book is important, and gives rewarding insight into a dynamic political structure in Islamic tribal society.’ – Andre Singer, The Times Literary Supplement
‘Mr Ahmed's strengths are his first hand experience of this subject, his knowledge of Islam and his intimacy with the languages concerned. To these he adds an excellent understanding of theoretical issues in contemporary social anthropology. The book is important for all social anthropologists, for students of South Asian societies, Islamic scholars and political scientists.’ – D.F. Pocock, British Book News
Part One: 1. The Swat Pathans and the Theory of Games 2. The Swat Pathan Understood 3. The Swat Pathan Misunderstood Part Two: 4. A Theory of Pathan Economic Structure and Political Organization 5. A Note on Sufic Orders and Islamic Revivalism in the Nineteenth Century Part Three: 6. Millennium and Charisma Among Pathans 7. Models and Method in Anthropology