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Full Text: Anthropos, 69.1974

Social Structure in the Southeastern Hindu-Kush: 
Some Implications for Pashai Ethno-History* 
R. Lincoln Reiser 
The Hindu-Kush and Karakoram mountain regions of Central Asia are 
among the most interesting but little known ethnographic areas of the world. 
Al °st of our information concerning these regions comes from British explorers 
an T amateur ethnographers who travelled through many of the high mountain 
galleys during the middle and late 19th century (Biddulph 1880, Robertson 
8%). More recently, European ethnologists and linguists - especially sc o ars 
fr °m Scandinavia, Austria, and Germany have organized expeditions with the 
Purpose of gathering data relevant to proto-Indo-Aryan language and cu tmre. 
has not been until very recently that a few anthropologists and linguists 
w ho Se interest is focussed on the analysis of ongoing social, cultural and hn- 
§uist ic systems have conducted research in this region. Although the European 
philologists are mainly interested in ancient folk-customs and belie s or cu 
tur *l reconstructions, the data gathered by social anthropologists also have 
lrri Phcations for the history of the area. The purpose of this paper is to reassess 
delusions concerning the ethno-history of the Pashai speaking peoples - one 
the ethnic groups located in the Hindu-Kush region. 
, The Pashai speaking peoples are Muslims of the Sunni branch who m- 
a hit a series of side valleys in the Kapisa, Laghman, Nangrahar, an unara 
|p°vinces of Afghanistan. Although no accurate census figures are aval a e 
^ time, most scholars estimate that about 100,000 people speak Pashai 
vMumlum 1959; 5). In general, subsistence is based on mixed herding an agn- 
cult ure. Herding has mainly a transhumant pattern. In the ™ ter the § oats ’ 
a ^tle, and sheep are stalled in permanent villages and taken to t e ig moun 
% A 
Anth r Ul ear ^ er version of this paper was presented in a symposium entitled "The 
at th e °:P 0lc, Sy of Central and Inner Asia: Current Status, Some Problems and Prospects” 
City j t annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New York 
WlS ^ thank Richard Strand, the discussant of my paper, and Fredrik 
’ c °rnmentator for the symposium, for useful comments and criticisms.

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