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.

Flash from the Past: Islamic Order à la Hekmatyar

Thomas Ruttig

The following statement was broadcast by HIG’s radio Payyam-e Azadi (Message of Freedom) in Pashto on 9 December 1994. Statement of the Military Command of Hezb-e Islami Afghanistan and Sepah-e Nur [Hezb’s military forces]. To the attention of all shop and restaurant owners and the noble population of Chahrasyab [a district capital in the South […]

Context and Culture Read more

Gulbuddin ante portas – again (Updated)

Thomas Ruttig

After the Soviet troop had withdrawn in early 1989, leaflets turned up in Kabul signed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar announcing that he would ride into Kabul on the back of a white horse and pray in Pul-e Kheshti mosque. That made many Kabulis shiver. They said that the mujahedin leader was ‘worse than the Russians’ and […]

Context and Culture Read more

Elvis Ain’t Dead: The story of Marja

Thomas Ruttig

He has been spotted in Marja (Helmand, Southern Afghanistan). The only problem is: Marja does not exist. Because it is not on Google Earth. And Operation Moshtarak in Helmand is a fake. But let me start from the beginning. Back in Kabul, as usual the unexpected happened: The rumour of the day did not come […]

Context and Culture Read more

Afghanistan in World Literature (II): Dr Watson Sent Packing

Thomas Ruttig

With part II of this series, we present a few pieces of colonial literature, featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling. This part, of course, is clearly not exhausted yet. An apparent survivor of another Afghan tragedy became famous amongst fans of crime literature: no one less than Dr Watson, assistant of the masterly […]

Context and Culture Read more

Rules and Empty Promises

Martine van Bijlert

I have finally arrived in Kabul, after spending several days travelling half the world to get a visa for Afghanistan. My quest started in Dubai, where in the past it had been relatively easy to get multiple entry, multiple months. I had heard about a new system that involved getting a “Mofa number” (i.e. a […]

Context and Culture Read more

A Note from the (Soccer) Field

AAN Guests

Here a dispatch received and sent in by ONE OF OUR FRIENDS in Afghanistan. It seems that not only the Africa Cup of Nations (with the attack on the Togo team bus) is overshadowed by violence. The dispatch has been slightly edited. For your information: In Kandahar province a football tournament has started on Friday […]

Context and Culture Read more

Afghanistan in World Literature (I): Only One Came Home from Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig

A not too serious Essay: It wasn’t always the case that Afghanistan was a household name around the world as it is today. Before 1979 when the Soviet invasion suddenly brought Afghanistan to everyone’s attention, even world-class writers would rarely touch upon Afghanistan at all. A few exceptions will follow in this series. PREFACE It […]

Context and Culture Read more

AAN Myth Busters (I): ‘Afghans Always Fought Outsiders’

Thomas Ruttig

There are a couple of stereotypes about Afghanistan that simply refuse to go away. Instead, they are recycled in some media time and again. But it is particularly annoying when they appear in statements of politicians being elevated into some kind of eternal truth. Today, we start another series that attempts to deconstruct some of […]

Context and Culture Read more

Pashto Mashto – what’s that? Read it!

Thomas Ruttig

The following blog starts our new non- but not a-political blog category called Pashto Mashto. It will not deal with daily political affairs but with issues related to Afghan languages and, more generally, culture(s). Cultural issues in the broader sense are often only covered at the margins by media (including bloggers) but are, at the […]

Context and Culture Read more

Read PASHTO MASHTO!

Thomas Ruttig

Blog-e newin-e Shabaka-ye Tahlilgaran-e Afghanistan be-khwaned! De AAN neway blog wu-lwalley! Read AAN’s new cultural-linguistic Pashto Mashto under blog here, find out what that means and learn more about Afghanistan’s ‘human terrain’. The new category of blogs deals with non-political issues, like language, culture etc. But not only with Pashto… Contributions and comments are most welcome. Xhe raghlast […]

Context and Culture Read more

How Do Afghans Tick? (in memoriam Bernt Glatzer)

Thomas Ruttig

The following is the translation of an interview given by late Dr Bernt Glatzer to a Berlin daily newspaper in 2008. He talks about how he himself became involved in Afghanistan, gives his opinion about current events and covers the ethics of ethnologists in war. More than six years ago, the Taleban regime in Afghanistan […]

Context and Culture Read more

Small stories from the province (1): A very high-ranking dog

Martine van Bijlert

“Did you hear about the Australian dog that was lost?” We had been discussing everything from the latest tribal gossip to the final announcement of the provincial council and the recent local appointments. And now, as we are packing up to go, there was apparently still a story of a dog. I had noticed the reports in […]

Context and Culture Read more