Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

This thematic area encompasses the wide array of subjects that illustrate Afghanistan’s rich history, arts, literature and culture, and the many ways Afghan society is changing and evolving.

The Daily Hustle: Eid-e Qurban, a time to reflect and be grateful

Ali Mohammad Sabawoon Roxanna Shapour

Today is Eid-e Qurban, also known as Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, which marks the most important religious holiday in Islam. On this day, Afghans, across the country will sacrifice cows or sheep in remembrance of the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael in submission to God’s command and of the […]

Context and Culture Read more

The Daily Hustle: Why one Afghan girl decided to open her own madrasa

Ali Mohammad Sabawoon Roxanna Shapour

After the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan closed girls’ high schools, thousands of older Afghan girls were left behind from education. With not much to do except help with the household chores, many families decided to enrol their girls in a madrasa so that they could pursue their religious education. Many older girls, who had already […]

Context and Culture Read more
Mother with newborn baby at the Tangi Saidan clinic run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, in Daymirdad district of Wardak province. Photo: Elise Blanchard/AFP, 6 October 2021

The Daily Hustle: The ancient art of making surma

Sayed Asadullah Sadat Roxanna Shapour

In Afghanistan, surma (kohl) has been used since ancient times by both men and women to enhance the eyes, for its healing properties and to protect the wearer against the evil eye. Traditionally made by grinding stibnite rock into a fine power, the use of the black concoction to line the eyes also has a […]

Context and Culture Read more

The State of Research on Afghanistan: Too many poor quality publications and some real gems

Christian Bleuer

Spanning almost 400 pages, the new edition of the Afghanistan Analysts Bibliography provides information about books, journal articles and other publications on a vast range of topics to do with Afghanistan – from ethnic groups, through war, regional relations, the security sector, development, peace-building, governance, opium, women, human rights, migration, education economics and natural resources, […]

Context and Culture Read more

Eid has Arrived: AAN wishes all a happy Eid al-Fitr

AAN Team

Eid al-Fitr or the festival of breaking of the fast is celebrated by Muslims around the world when the citing of the moon heralds the end of Ramadan, the month-long rite of fasting. Eid al-Fitr, which is an official three-day holiday, is marked by offering traditional prayers at the mosque. Across Afghanistan, there are new […]

Context and Culture Read more

New Day, New Year: AAN wishes happiness and prosperity to all celebrating Nawruz

AAN Team

The advent of spring and the arrival of Nawruz brings with it the promise of new beginnings – of life renewed, of resilience and good fortune. As Spring thaws the cold winter soil, it paints the hills and the valleys with its vibrant greens. It perfumes the air with blossoms and decorates the landscape with […]

Context and Culture Read more

What We Wrote, What You Read in 2023: Daily struggles, edicts and orders, falcons flying high

Kate Clark

2023 was a busy year for AAN, with just over 50 publications. They ranged from in-depth investigations into the economy, public finance and the aid industry to a poetic journey into the world of falconry. We introduced a new form of report – short, first-person accounts by Afghans of what they are doing to survive […]

Context and Culture Read more

Recommended Reads from AAN Writers and Readers: The search for context, deeper understanding, surprise and good stories

AAN Team AAN Guests

We thought we would start the new year by asking AAN writers and friends to recommend books about Afghanistan. The books they reviewed were diverse – fact and fiction, classics and newly-published and written in English, Pashto and German. Two were books that the reviewers felt helped make sense of why the Islamic Republic and […]

Context and Culture Read more

Of Hunters and Hunted (1): Falconry in Afghanistan from classical literature to colonial sources 

Fabrizio Foschini

Unbeknownst to many, Afghanistan has a rich historical heritage related to falconry. Photographs dating from the 1950s to the 1970s offer a relatively recent glimpse of Afghan falconers with their birds. However, those ancient traditions of Afghans practising falconry – embodied in literary works such as the Baznama, The Book of the Falcon, by Pashtun poet […]

Context and Culture Read more

The Daily Hustle: “Helping the dreams of girls come true”

Rohullah Sorush Roxanna Shapour

After the Islamic Emirate banned older girls from education, many girls found alternative avenues to continue their studies, find intellectual stimulation – and even, as this Daily Hustle found out, make a living in the private education sector. AAN’s Rohullah Sorush hears from one young Afghan woman about how, even in the face of overwhelming […]

Context and Culture Read more

The Daily Hustle: Crossing the Durand Line to visit family in Pakistan

Ali Mohammad Sabawoon Roxanna Shapour

The story of Afghan families is often one of loved ones separated by long distances and national borders. Every year, many Afghans who have family living in neighbouring countries make the hours and sometimes days-long journey overland from Afghanistan, braving long bus rides, hours waiting to cross borders and the demands for payment by border […]

Context and Culture Read more

Extensive but not Inclusive: Afghanistan’s growing list of national holidays

Fabrizio Foschini

August has already seen two days of national public holidays in Afghanistan and will see a third this week, celebrating the anniversary of the departure of the last United States troops on the 31st. That follows the celebration of Taleban forces’ entry into Kabul on 15 August 2021, which sealed the fate of the Islamic […]

Context and Culture Read more