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.

Happy Eid! And ten stories of celebrations and customs from all over the country

AAN Team

Finally, after a month of dawn-to-sunset fasting, Eid al Fitr approaches, the Feast of the Breaking the Fast. The country will slow down significantly, Afghans take three to seven days off, the men go for Eid prayers, and for once there will be (hopefully) more play than politics. But Eid is more than that. There […]

Context and Culture Read more

A Journey’s End: Returning to Kabul after three decades

Ali M Latifi

Nearly 30 years ago, the mother of AAN guest author Ali M. Latifi fled Kabul from the Soviet-backed regime, holding her three children by the hand. Shortly before this year’s Ramadan began, she came back for the first time. She wanted to visit Ali, her youngest child, who now works in Kabul. And she wanted […]

Context and Culture Read more

Watching Warblers: A bird lover’s delight in Kabul

Mark Mallalieu

Did you think the vast, loud and smoggy capital of Afghanistan was the last place to watch birds? Think again. With its parks and gardens, it is an oasis for tired migrants in the otherwise rocky and dry region. Siberian Chiffchaffs, Hume’s Leaf Warblers, Bluethroats, Hoopoes and many more – they all come to rest […]

Context and Culture Read more

A Giant Arch, a Secret Garden, a Dragon and Myriads of Mud-Coloured Frogs: Our summer travel tips for Bamyan Province

Fabrizio Foschini

Bamyan is one of the most famous places in Afghanistan and has, in the last 12 years, probably received a greater share of visitors than aid. Travelling Bamyan is a treat and a must for everyone, Afghan or foreigner, who is able to arrange transport there – which is not always easy. The start of […]

Context and Culture Read more

War Doves: The Afghan sport of pigeon flying

Fabrizio Foschini

It is a familiar sight in Kabul’s springtime skies: pigeons flying in thick flocks, circling and dipping, reacting to a man on a rooftop waving a stick. Kaftar bazi or the Play of Pigeons is an Afghan national sport – one of the calmer sort. This doesn’t mean it isn’t highly competitive. AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini […]

Context and Culture Read more

Inspiration in Kabul: Nancy Dupree and the Opening of the Afghanistan Centre

Kate Clark

The Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU) has been officially opened. A beautiful, airy building with a central green courtyard, it has space for both researchers and the Centre’s collection of 80,000 (and increasing) documents collected over the last three decades. The driving force behind the project is Nancy Hatch Dupree who said that ‘for […]

Context and Culture Read more

The ‘Bagram Duck’: Migrant bird killed north of Kabul and offered as game

Kate Clark

If you drive to the Bagram detention centre, you pass by a row of small shops selling birds. Live finches and other wild song birds hop about in cages which hang among dead game birds on hooks, ready for the pot. The well-watered lands of the Shomali Plain, home to waders, ducks and many other […]

Context and Culture Read more

Despite Growing Ulema Conservatism: Afghans Managed to Celebrate Nawruz

AAN Team

Increasingly, during the last few years, the millennia-old celebrations of Nawruz, the New Year which starts at the spring equinox, ie around 21 March, has become the object of a religious debate in Afghanistan. Although the spring festivity is a major official holiday and continues to be a popular occasion for families to go on […]

Context and Culture Read more

Sal-e Naw Mubarak! Neway kal-mu mubarak!

Kate Clark

AAN would like to wish all our beloved readers and contributors a peaceful and happy new year. The signs of spring are all about us here in Kabul – blossom on the almond trees, cats a-courting and sunshine, warm and pleasant, is mixed with thunder showers. The mud underfoot is drying to dust in the […]

Context and Culture Read more

On the Roof of the World: The Last Kyrgyz in Afghanistan

S Reza Kazemi

At most 2,000 individuals, pastoralists living for centuries in the harsh environment of Afghanistan’s north-easternmost Pamir region, are the last remaining ethnic Kyrgyz in Afghanistan. As a part of its nationalist discourse, post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan has been vocally politicking, but not doing much in practice, for the return of these Kyrgyz ‘brethren’ to their titular homeland, […]

Context and Culture Read more

BREAKING NEWS: Harirod Storm Swept the Northern Alborz

Fabrizio Foschini

Yesterday, 19 October 2012, Tofan Harirod defeated Simorgh Alborz 2-1 in a hotly contested final match of the Roshan Afghan Premier League. This may not have decisive and immediate implications on the political situation of Afghanistan, but the date will indeed remain a memorable one in the annals of Afghan sport. Moreover, it turned out […]

Context and Culture Read more

Flash From the Past: The Wonderful Days of Afghanistan as a Football-Free Zone

Kate Clark

Unlike my colleague, Thomas Ruttig (see the other blog: ‘X-Factor Football’), I wasn’t an under-14 champion at soccer. Indeed, after a brief flirtation with the sport in my early teenage years, I came to the conclusion being a football fan is one of the dullest past-times on the planet. So, for me, one of the […]

Context and Culture Read more