Robert Crews

Professor of History

I write and teach about global history and politics, focusing on Afghanistan, Russia, Central Asia, South Asia, and Islam. 

In 2023-2024, my courses include History 5N: The Global Refugee Crisis, History 207B/307B: The Irish and the World, History 201A/301A: The Global Drug Wars, and History 209s: Research Seminar for Majors. 

I am the author of Afghan Modern: The History of a Global Nation (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2015) and  For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Harvard University Press, 2006) - in Russian translation as За пророка и царя: ислам и империя в России и Центральной Азии (Москва: Новое литературное обозрение, 2020) and co-editor of Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands (Harvard University Press, 2012) and The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2008). 

My work has also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Paradigm
I have served as Director of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford. 

I am currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal  Afghanistan (published by The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies/Edinburgh University Press). 

A 2009 Carnegie Scholar, I received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching for First Years of Teaching, 2006-2007, the El Centro Chicano Faculty Appreciation Award in 2011, and the Stanford College Prep Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award, Summer 2012. My research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Kennan Institute, the Carnegie Corporation, the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Academy of Korean Studies, and others.

Recent Publications

"Palestine and Russia: The Global Politics of Muslim Solidarity," The New Paradigm, Institute for New Global Politics, December 8, 2023. 

"Eight Lessons from the 9/11 Wars," The New Paradigm, Institute for New Global Politics, September 11, 2023. 

"The Hydra of 'Hybrid War'," The New Paradigm, Institute for New Global Politics, June 29, 2023.

“'Sellers of the Homeland’: Narratives of Treason and Fidelity in Afghanistan,” in Enemies Within: The Global Politics of Fifth Columns, eds. Harris Mylonas and Scott Radnitz (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022), 153-172.

“Gender, Religious Authority, and Media in Afghanistan,” The Written and the Spoken in Central Asia/Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit in Zentralasien – Festschrift für Ingeborg Baldauf, ed. Redkollegia (Potsdam: edition-tethys, 2021), 359-379.  

“New Publics and the Challenge of Peace in Afghanistan,” in In Search of Peace for Afghanistan: Historical Letters of President Najibullah and Dr. M. Hassan Kakar: A Collection of Essays, ed. Jawan Shir Rasikh (Kabul: Kakar History Foundation Press, 2021), 175-188. 

“Mourning Imam Husayn in Karbala and Kabul: The Political Meanings of ʿAshura in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan 3, no. 2 (2020): 202-236. 

Recent PhD Advisees

Dr. Anubha Anushree, “The Moral Republic: Corruption in Colonial and Postcolonial India, c. 1830-1974” (2022)

Dr. Mélisande Genat, “State Law and Tribal Justice in Iraq, 1914-2022” (2023)
Dr. Mejgan Massoumi, “The Sounds of Kabul: Radio and the Politics of Popular Culture in Afghanistan, 1960-79" (2021) 
Dr. Sabauon Nasseri, “The Red Flower of Life: A History of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, 1964-2020” (2023) 





Building 200, Room 29

Office Hours
Central and Inner Asia
Global, Transnational, and International History
Immigration, Borderlands, and Frontiers
Race and Ethnicity

Is Russia the Last Empire?The New Paradigm, Institute for New Global Politics, March 22, 2023.

Shattering the Russian Colossus,” The New Paradigm, Institute for New Global Politics, March 18, 2023.

“The United States’ Unvarnished Cruelty in Afghanistan,” with Bhav Jain, Simar S. Bajaj, and Mariam Noorulhuda, Undark Magazine, August 25, 2022. 

"Muslims are fighting on both sides in Ukraine," The Washington Post, March 10, 2022. 

“Who Are the Taliban?” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, February 2022.

“Global Health Responsibilities in a Taliban-led Afghanistan,” Nature Medicine, November 8, 2021, with Bhav Jain, Simar S. Bajaj, and Mariam Noorulhuda. 

“The Challenge of Taliban Ideology for International Politics: Religious Competition, Counterterrorism, and the Search for Legitimacy” Международная аналитика [Journal of International Analytics] 12, no. 4 (2021): 50–67.

“The Ephemeral Emirate? Dilemmas of a Taliban State,” Berkley Forum, Georgetown University, Islam, Politics, and the Future of Afghanistan, November 3, 2021.

“What the US exit from Kabul tells us about the value of Afghan lives,” with Nasema Zeerak, Open Democracy, August 31, 2021. 

“The Taliban wants to rule Afghanistan again. But the country has changed,” with Wazhmah Osman, The Washington Post, July 20, 2021.

“Mourning Imam Husayn in Karbala and Kabul: The Political Meanings of ʿAshura in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan 3, no. 2 (2020): 202-236.

“The Necessity of an Afghan Resettlement Program,” The New York Times (“Room for Debate: Is America Responsible for Afghan Refugees?”), April 6, 2016.

“America’s Afghan Refugee Crisis,” Foreign Policy, February 4, 2016.