Benjamin D. Hopkins

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Benjamin D. Hopkins

Professor of History and International Affairs; Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Elliot School of International Affairs

Central and South Asia


Office Phone: (202) 994-2822
The Elliott School of International Affairs Foggy Bottom Campus 1957 E Street, NW, Suite 401 Washington DC 20052

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 AfghanistanFragments of the Afghan Frontier, and  Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier. His latest book,  Ruling the Savage Periphery: Frontier Governance and the Making of the Modern State, which won the Association of Asian Studies  Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize (2022), 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 manuscript about the American war in Afghanistan provisionally entitled, The War that Destroyed America, as well as A Concise History of Afghanistan for Cambridge University Press.

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 directed the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2016 until 2021. During the 2021-22 academic year, he worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations.

Professor Hopkins has received fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington DC, the National University of Singapore, as well as the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. His research has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust (UK), the British Academy, the American Institute of Iranian Studies, the Nuffield Foundation (UK), as well as Trinity College, Cambridge.


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

HIST 1011: World History, 1500-Present

HIST 3650/IAFF 3186: Modern South Asia

HIST 6601/IAFF 6318: Afghanistan, South and Central Asia

HIST 6602: Asia – History, Memory, and Violence

‘The War that Destroyed America: Afghanistan’s Coming Bill.’ Critical Asian Studies. Published online January 2021.

Ruling the “Savage” Periphery: Frontier Governance and the Making of the Modern State. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press (2020). Winner of the Association for Asian Studies Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize (2022)

‘Afghan trading networks.’ The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. Co-authored with Magnus Marsden. Published online May 2019. 

‘Introduction.’ The History of the War in Afghanistan: The First Afghan War by Sir John Kaye. Historical Reprint. London: I. B. Tauris (2017). 

‘The longue durèe of the Human Terrain: Politics, cultural knowledge and the technical fix.’ Anthropology Today. 32/3 (June 2016), pp. 9-13. 

‘The Frontier Crimes Regulation and Frontier Governmentality.’ The Journal of Asian Studies. 74/2 (2015) pp. 369-89.

Ph.D., University of Cambridge, 2006