The dynamic and interconnected ways Afghans and Iranians invented their modern selves through literature.
Contrary to the presumption that literary nationalism in the Global South emerged through contact with Europe alone, Reading across Borders demonstrates how the cultural forms of Iran and Afghanistan as nation-states arose from their shared Persian heritage and cross-cultural exchange in the twentieth century. In this book, Aria Fani charts the individuals, institutions, and conversations that made this exchange possible, detailing the dynamic and interconnected ways Afghans and Iranians invented their modern selves through new ideas about literature.
Fani illustrates how voluntary and state-funded associations of readers helped formulate and propagate "literature" as a recognizable notion, adapting and changing Persian concepts to fit this modern idea. Focusing on early twentieth-century periodicals with readers in Afghan and Iranian cities and their diaspora, Fani exposes how nationalism intensified—rather than severed—cultural contact among two Persian-speaking societies amidst the diverging and competing demands of their respective nation-states. This interconnected history was ultimately forgotten, shaping many of the cultural disputes between Iran and Afghanistan today.