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His collection of private papers, deposited at the India Office, house at least nine volumes dedicated to his Afghan mission alone. This mass does not includes his official correspondence, found elsewhere in the EIC archives. Elphinstone, along with later Company servants, laid the foundations of the colonial knowledge which came to define Afghanistan not only for the British imperial state, but also for both the wider public as well as later for the Afghans themselves. 4 This order prized certain forms of information, in keeping with both the intellectual and bureaucratic values then prevalent amongst colonial administrators.

Knowing the tribes’ became the objective of the colonial information order in regard to Afghanistan and the frontier, and at the same time the justification for its existence. Territoriality and the delineation of power Included in this ambitious project was an attempt to represent the Kingdom of Kabul territorially in the form of a map drawn up by Lt. 53 The map stands as testament for the breadth of its undertaking, its detail and its essential geographical inaccuracy. 54 Macartney used natives’ information in the construction of his own image of Afghanistan, divorcing that information from the conceptual framework in which it was embedded.

15 Elphinstone himself cultivated younger protégés in similar intellectual endeavours, writing to the then Governor-General Lord Minto in support of Lt. 16 Moreover, Elphinstone was not the only member of the mission to either keep a journal or publish parts of it. 17 One of Elphinstone’s Indian contemporaries and colleagues, Sir John Malcolm, published his History of Persia in 1815, a work similar in scope to Elphinstone’s work on the Kingdom of Kabul. 18 Together, these two defined British India’s Persianspeaking neighbours for at least a generation of administrators, if not longer.

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