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.

Well done, medium or ‘authentic’? – or: Reality is satire

AAN

The following piece was published by the AFP. We did not make it up, we swear. Wanted: Afghan butcher class for US special forces AFP, 18/07/2011 WASHINGTON US special forces in Afghanistan are known for taking out militants in stealthy night raids but commanders now want them to learn how to butcher meat and cook […]

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Old Traditions and New Virtuosos in Kharabat

Fabrizio Foschini

On 14 June, the day marking the anniversary of both birth and death of the Afghan song genius, Ahmad Zahir, reflectors may have been pointed to his grave in Shuhada-ye Salihin, where commemoration and musical events took place. But not too far from there, in Kucha-e Kharabat, the musicians’ quarter in the Old City, another […]

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Afghanistan’s not-so-hermetic rural-urban divide

Thomas Ruttig

Rural vs urban areas, traditionalists vs modernists, Kabul vs the mountains – these are only a few of many simplifications that are used to explain Afghanistan. Such simplifications are repeated so often that they affect political decision making, to the detriment of those Afghans who support reform, argues AAN Senior Analyst Thomas Ruttig. He advocates […]

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Walking the Kabul Wall, Looking into History

Kate Clark

From the roof of one of the newest buildings in Kabul, the AAN office, you can see the oldest surviving, above-ground structure in the Afghan capital, the Kabul Wall. It snakes along the Sher Darwaza mountain, now green after the spring rains. AAN Senior Analyst, Kate Clark tells some stories from the Wall: of spring […]

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Ghazni as Islamic Cultural Capital 2013 (updated)

Thalia Kennedy

Ghazni has been chosen as the City of Islamic Culture for the Asian region for 2013. The city south of Kabul boasts a number of important pre-Islamic and Islamic sites but, due to the security situation, cannot be reached by foreign tourists currently. Our frequent guest blogger Thalia Kennedy(*) comments on the conundrums of such […]

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The Easter Egg Question in the Light of Orientalism

Thomas Ruttig

This (Easter Sunday) morning I was listening to my local German radio station where an expert on religion was explaining how certain ‘European’ Easter traditions – like painting and hiding eggs for children – were increasingly adopted elsewhere. He linked this to the spread of television and children’s books and opined that ‘a majority of […]

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In Quest of the Arghawan (and the Rhubarb)

Fabrizio Foschini

Kabul, having been a serious city for some thousands years now, even a capital at different times, and withstood many an invasion – from the Hephtalites to the Hippies, from the Mongols to the Contractors – has a long tradition of urban pleasures. Foremost among them is that of escaping the city’s chaos and noise […]

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Jallywood follows Bollywood

Naqib Ahmad Atal

In Jalalabad, a vibrant film scene has emerged since the fall of the Taleban. Movies are recorded on mobile phones. Illegally copied DVDs are sold for low prices. Filmmakers are requesting the government to build a cinema. And even governor Sherzai has produced songs for a Hindi movie. But one element is missing: female actors. […]

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Kandahar in Revolt: The Quran demos in the light of history

Felix Kuehn

The sort of violent demonstrations which took place in Kandahar in the first week of April against the burning of a Qur’an in the United States, with large gatherings of people and clashes with Afghan security forces, have not been seen since the late 1950s and early 1980s. Usually, says our guest blogger, the freelance […]

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White mountains, White City

Thomas Ruttig

On his first day in Kabul again after some time in Europe, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig finds spring scents and dust on the tongue in the Afghan capital, and the two universes – that of Afghans and that of the expat community – fully intact: one picknicking, the other one in ‘White City’ lock-down. Back to […]

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Museums and Massacres

Kate Clark

A new exhibition at the Kabul Museum has opened with the display of some exquisitely beautiful exhibits, newly found at the archaeological dig which is preceding the development of the Mes-e Ainak copper mine in Logar. Ambassadors, generals and ministers gathered with curators and archaeologists for the opening and an announcement that a new Afghan […]

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Guest Blog: Why the Buddhas of Bamian were destroyed

Michael Semple

It would have been possible to save the Bamian Buddhas from destruction. But it was not an important enough issue for the western powers to intervene over. And the outsiders who did consider the Buddhas important were not prepared to contemplate the kind of intervention that might have worked. The Buddhas were abandoned, argues our […]

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