Benjamin David Hopkins

photo: Ben Hopkins
Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies; Associate Professor of History and International Affairs; Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
503 M Elliott School of International Affairs
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

South Asian history, Afghanistan, Central Asia, modern imperialism, British imperialism, world history

Benjamin D. Hopkins is a historian of modern South Asia, specializing in the history of Afghanistan and British imperialism on the Indian subcontinent. He has authored, co-authored, and co-edited numerous books on the region, including The Making of Modern Afghanistan, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, and Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier. His new book, Ruling the Savage Periphery: Frontier Governance and the Making of the Modern State, presents a global history of how the limits of today’s state-based political order were organized in the late nineteenth century, with lasting effects to the present day. He is currently working on A Concise History of Afghanistan for Cambridge University Press, as well as a manuscript about the continuing war in Afghanistan provisionally entitled, The War that Destroyed America.

Professor Hopkins’ research has been funded by Trinity College, Cambridge, the Nuffield Foundation (UK), the British Academy, the American Institute of Iranian Studies, as well as the Leverhulme Trust. He has received fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, the National University of Singapore, the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington DC. Writing for the public, Professor Hopkins has been featured in The New York Times, The National Interest, and the BBC. He regularly teaches courses on South Asian history, the geopolitics of South and Central Asia, as well as World history and the legacies of violence and memory in Asia. Professor Hopkins has directed the Sigur Center for Asian Studies since 2016.



"America's Shocking Ignorance of Afghanistan." The National Interest. 5 June 2015.

"Islam and Resistance in the British Empire." In David Motadel (ed.) Islam and the European Empires. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy Along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier. Co-edited with Magnus Marsden. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Fragments of the Afghan Frontier. Co-authored with Magnus Marsden. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

"Ten Years in, Afghan Myths Live On." The New York Times. 8 October 2011. Co-authored with Magnus Marsden.

The Making of Modern Afghanistan. Cambridge Imperial and Post Colonial Studies Series. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

“Race, Sex and Slavery: ‘Forced Labour’ in Central Asia and Afghanistan in the early 19th century.” Modern Asian Studies 42, no. 2 (2008): 629-71.

“The bounds of identity: the Goldsmid mission and the delineation of the Perso-Afghan border in the nineteenth century.” Journal of Global History 2, no. 2 (2007): 233-54.

Classes Taught

HIST 1011: World History, 1500–present
HIST 3650: Modern South Asia, 1750-Present
HIST 4098: Thesis Seminar for History Majors
HIST 6001: The Geo-Politics of Afghanistan, South and Central Asia
HIST 6650: History, Memory and Violence in Asia