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.

An April Day That Changed Afghanistan 4: The evolution of the PDPA and its relations with the Soviet Union

Thomas Ruttig

After the leftists of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in the Saur Revolution of April 1978, the Soviet Union became Kabul’s key backer, to the extent of invading the country in 1979 to prevent local insurgencies and military rebellions toppling its new ally. AAN’s Thomas Ruttig here explores the relationship between […]

Context and Culture Read more
Photographs of those who disappeared in AGSA custody, placed by family members in the Puligun (Polygon) area of Pul-e Charkhi, where mass graves have been found. Families hold a ceremony every year on 10 December to remember their lost relatives (Photo: Victims’ Families Association, with permission, 2016)

An April Day That Changed Afghanistan 3: The legacy of the Saur Revolution’s war crimes

P. Gossman

The coup d’etat that brought the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was a watershed for Afghanistan, driving it into a conflict from which it has yet to recover and ushering in a whole new level of violence by the state against its citizens. Forced disappearances, the routine use of torture for punishment as well […]

Context and Culture Read more
A day after the PDPA took power, soldiers guard the Arg where Nur Muhammad Taraki is the new president (1978). Photo: Cleric77, Wikipedia - Creative Commons 3.0

An April Day that Changed Afghanistan 2: Afghans remember the ‘Saur Revolution’

Kate Clark

It is forty years, today, since the coup d’etat which brought the leftist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) to power. That event has had far-reaching consequences, plunging the country into a conflict from which it has yet to emerge and changing the course of almost every Afghan’s life. AAN has been speaking to a […]

Context and Culture Read more

Coming Home to Kabul: A Mughal art exhibition opens in the cradle of King Babur’s Empire

Jelena Bjelica Kate Clark

The display of 72 paintings from the mid-sixteenth century Mughal period in Kabul as well as late sixteenth and seventeenth century Indian Mughal paintings opened in the Queen’s Pavilion of Babur’s Garden in Kabul on 31 March 2018. This, as well as an earlier exhibition in Herat’s Citadel in December 2017 showcasing fifteenth century Tîmûrid […]

Context and Culture Read more
Nurullah, a farmer selling spring flowers ahead of Nawruz in Kabul. Photo: Obaid Ali 2018

Happy Nawruz: Wishing peace and happiness to AAN readers

AAN Team

After a cold winter, spring has finally arrived. By 1 Hamal 1397, in every corner of Kabul city, greenhouses are being reopened with a variety of trees and flowers on sale. AAN team would link to wish all our readers and friends a blessed and peaceful year. We wanted to brighten up your day (further) […]

Context and Culture Read more

Unrelenting on Human Rights and Democracy: An obituary for Pakistan’s Asma Jahangir

Thomas Ruttig

“‘Speaking truth to power’ is a phrase we often use,” wrote Raza Rumi, one of Pakistan’s leading liberal journalists, about Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s most outstanding human rights and pro-democracy activists, who has died today in her home city of Lahore after heart failure. “She lived, practiced it till her last breath.” Pakistan’s Human […]

Context and Culture Read more
Cover of Afghan Info. Issue no 79, October 2016.

“The Rédactrice Says Farewell”: A goodbye to the Afghanistan Info (1980-2017)

Thomas Ruttig

It is already December and time to look back at the year almost just passed. Before we come to the macro issues of Afghanistan’s political, security and socio-economic situation in 2017, we want to say “thank you” to Micheline Centlivres-Demont and Pierre Centlivres, and wish a “goodbye” to the Afghanistan Info, a bulletin of news […]

Context and Culture Read more

The Soul of Herat’s Citadel Comes Home: Reflections on an exhibition of miniatures

Kate Clark

A historic exhibition of reproductions of miniatures has opened in the Citadel in Herat where many of the pictures were painted in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. At that time, Herat was a centre of Islamic art and culture. In the decades that followed, as dynasties fell or moved, the miniatures were scattered, eventually ending […]

Context and Culture Read more

A Son of Nangrahar Paints the Sea: Afghan artwork from Guantanamo

Kate Clark

As an art exhibition featuring the works of eight current and former Guantanamo detainees, Yemeni, Algerian, Pakistani and Kuwaiti, is now showing in New York, we thought we would look at the paintings and sculptures of an Afghan who is still in the prison camp, who is not featured in the exhibition. Assad (known in […]

Context and Culture Read more

Remembering Nancy Hatch Dupree 2: Nancy in the words of others

AAN Team

It is 40 days since the historian, archivist and activist on behalf of Afghans, Nancy Hatch Dupree, died, aged 89. She had spent decades of her life in Afghanistan or, like many Afghans, in exile in neighbouring Pakistan. She was the author of guidebooks on Afghanistan and a publisher of books. Then, first with her […]

Context and Culture Read more
Nancy and Louis dance together in pre-war Kabul. The couple worked till 5 pm each day and then opened their doors to all, as Nancy described: "The 5 o'clock follies were born and became an institution that lasted for many years.”

Remembering Nancy Hatch Dupree 1: Nancy in her own words

AAN Team

It is 40 days since the historian, archivist and activist on behalf of Afghans, Nancy Hatch Dupree, died, aged 89. As a tribute to this remarkable woman, we are publishing two pieces. The first is an interview which Nancy gave in 2007 to Markus Hakansson for a book authored by Nancy and published by the […]

Context and Culture Read more

Nancy Hatch Dupree’s Last Project: Afghan History Revealed in Photographs

Martine van Bijlert Kate Clark

AAN was due to post this dispatch when we heard the news of the death of the great archivist, historian and advocate for Afghanistan, Nancy Hatch Dupree. The piece looks at Nancy’s last project, the uploading of thousands of historical photographs to the website of the Afghanistan Centre at the Kabul University (ACKU), the successor […]

Context and Culture Read more