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.

Head of the Culture Department in Ghazni, Mullah Habibullah Mujahid stands with toher Taleban next to a section of a wall of a former US military base with the names of US soldiers in Ghazni. Photo Hector Retamal/AFP, 15 November 2021

War, War, War: A look at which AAN reports you were reading in 2021

Kate Clark

AAN publications in 2021 were dominated by our efforts to understand the conflict and the failing peace process. More than 40 per cent of our reports last year dealt with war and peace. For our readers, the subject was even more important: among our most-read reports, more than 70 per cent focussed on the conflict. […]

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Afghanistan in World Literature (V): Two French portraits

Fabrizio Foschini

Over the years, AAN has written about how Afghanistan is portrayed in the literature of other countries. Such portrayals have been instrumental in shaping the views and impressions of the country up to the present and given the continuing influence of outsiders on Afghanistan, it seems important to map this literature. In this report, AAN’s […]

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Music Censorship in 2021: The silencing of a nation and its cultural identity

Fabrizio Foschini

Music and musicians once again face serious threats following Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taleban in August this year. Over the past two decades, the theory and practice of traditional Afghan instruments, as well as other musical forms, has seen a remarkable revival after the destruction of the country’s musical heritage during the 1990s, with skills […]

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AAN wishes calm for Afghanistan at Eid al-Adha

AAN Team

This Eid al-Adha comes at a very troubling time for Afghanistan. War has continued and intensified across the country, leaving a trail of deaths, injuries, displacement and damage on all sides. Equally worrying is the widespread uncertainty and fear about what is coming next. At AAN, we sincerely hope this Eid will help to usher […]

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At Eid al-Fitr, AAN Wishes Calm and Peace for Afghanistan

AAN Team

Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, has again come at a deeply unsettling and anxious time for Afghans. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take and harm lives, the war has intensified, appearing also to have become more indiscriminate and merciless. For the sake of Eid, […]

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At the Turn of a Century: A rare chance to discover Nawruz in history and in Afghanistan

S Reza Kazemi

By popular count at least, the coming solar year 1400 will usher in a new century in Afghanistan. Taking this as an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime chance, AAN researcher Reza Kazemi taps into a diverse array of sources, including history, literature and folk music, to look at Nawruz in deep time and through Afghanistan as a kaleidoscopic […]

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Playful Pastimes and Much More: Seven folk games from Afghanistan

S Reza Kazemi AAN Team

A ‘fundraising’ game by children to buy themselves treats for Nawruz, a children’s play that satirises wedding traditions, a funny game about how to deal with a duff player, a deceptively easy game particularly played by girls with hazelnut-sized stones, two more stone throwing games played by grown-ups and a complicated ‘egg fighting’ game favoured […]

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A Sufi Lodge, a Leaning Minaret and a Polymath’s Shrine: A look at recent efforts to preserve – and appreciate – historical Herat

S Reza Kazemi

Herat, the oasis town in the far northwest of Afghanistan, has been a flourishing Sufi and cultural centre at various points along its long, chequered history. Based on observations, conversations and a literature review, and illustrated by photos, AAN researcher Reza Kazemi takes a look at the city’s rich heritage through three memorials: a tenth-century […]

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AAN Obituary: Muhammad Azam Rahnaward Zaryab, pioneering Afghan writer and guardian of the Persian language

Thomas Ruttig

One of Afghanistan’s most influential and prolific writers died in a Kabul hospital 40 days ago on 11 December 2020. Born in Kabul in 1944, Zaryab wrote some of the first modern Afghan novels, and his contributions to Afghanistan’s literature inspired a new generation of Afghan writers. In Afghanistan’s post-Taleban media scene, the celebrated author […]

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AAN’s most-read dispatches in 2020: Cannabis, Bollywood, Bride Prices… and War

Kate Clark

2020 was a year when our readers wanted to read about the war and efforts to find peace and Afghanistan’s culture and history. Reports scrutinising the Doha talks and mapping the conflict appeared in our twenty most-read publications last year, along with others looking at Afghanistan’s history, its relationship with Bollywood and practices around getting married and […]

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From Tazi to Afghan Hound… from hunter’s friend to silken-haired pet

Kate Clark

Winter is the time when Afghan hunters go up into the snowy mountains with their dogs, known as tazis. These are lean, graceful creatures who use speed and keen sight to catch their prey. To the outside world, they became known as the ‘Afghan hound’ after officers in the British colonial army brought individual dogs to London a […]

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“Helmand is my soul, my mother. I never want to leave”: Obituary for murdered journalist, Muhammad Aliyas Dayee, 1988-2020

Andrew Quilty

One of Afghanistan’s most respected journalists, Muhammad Aliyas Dayee, was killed in a targeted attack on 12 November in the Helmand capital, Lashkargah. Greatly admired and loved by colleagues and listeners to his radio reports alike, Dayee’s murder has raised questions about whether the profession is a viable one as the incidence of targeted killings […]

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