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.

Fruit Seller selling melons in Kabul, ahead of Eid. Photo: Obaid Ali 2018

Eid al-Fitr Mubarak from AAN to All Our Readers

AAN Team

Eid al-Fitr Mubarak! The AAN team would like to wish a happy and peaceful Eid al-Fitr to friends and readers, to all Muslims around the world and particularly the people of Afghanistan. We hope the coming days of Eid bring happiness and joy to all. AAN hopes Afghans can celebrate this Eid as peacefully as […]

Context and Culture Read more

Rug Weavers and Bride Prices in the Northwest: Still expensive in spite of government and Taleban rules

Obaid Ali

Weddings in Afghanistan are often an expensive and ‘back-breaking’ affair. A government law to change the expensive wedding culture remains largely unimplemented and there seems to be little will to enforce it. The Taleban have also imposed an assortment of rules for controlling wedding costs in areas under their command, which vary depending on the […]

Context and Culture Read more
Collection of books related to Afghanistan and the region at AAN's Kabul office. 2019

Afghanistan Analyst Bibliography 2019

AAN Guests

Today, we publish an important work, a bibliography of Afghanistan. It is intended to be an up-to-date resource for studying and researching contemporary Afghanistan, particularly the post-1979 period. The author, Christian Bleuer, began compiling this bibliography in 2004/05 when, as a graduate student, he became increasingly frustrated with trying to find sources. Initially, it was […]

Context and Culture Read more
Man selling fish in Pul-e Surkh, Kabul. Demand rises sharply ahead of Nawruz as many engaged boys send fish to their fiancées. (Photo: Ali Sina Sorush, 19 March 2019)

Happy Nawruz: May every day be Nawruz for AAN readers

AAN Team

AAN wishes a happy new year and joyful Nawruz to all its readers. Afghans and many others across the region will be celebrating the first day of 1398, also the first day of spring, with family visits, special food and picnics. In Kabul, some will go to the Sakhi Shrine, while many others will congregate […]

Context and Culture Read more
Dr Muhammad Sharif Fayez (1944-2019), first post-Taleban Minister of Higher education and higher education reformer

AAN Obituary: Muhammad Sharif Fayez (1944-2019) – a higher education reformer, come too early or maybe too late

Michael Daxner

With Muhammad Sharif Fayez, another member of the first post-Taleban Afghan cabinet has passed away. In this cabinet, Fayez served as Minister of Higher Education from 2001 to 2004. In 2004, he became the founding president of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), which he chaired until 2006. As president emeritus until his passing, he […]

Context and Culture Read more

AAN obituary: Ludwig Adamec, the Afghanistan Encyclopedian (1924-2019)

Thomas Ruttig

Professor Ludwig W Adamec was the author of “The Who is Who of Afghanistan” – a book every student of Afghanistan will have encountered early in her or his career. Printed in 1975, and updated several times since then, it is nothing less than one of the standard works of Afghan studies. AAN’s Thomas Ruttig […]

Context and Culture Read more

The Myth of ‘Afghan Black’ (2): The cultural history of hashish consumption in Afghanistan

Fabrizio Foschini Jelena Bjelica Obaid Ali

Hashish or chars is a fairly common substance in Afghanistan. Its use, without ever attaining the levels of mass consumption that characterise other lightly-intoxicating substances in other war-torn countries, like the chewing of qat in Yemen or Somalia, for example, has remained relatively widespread. This does not mean that it is condoned by society: hashish-users, known as […]

Context and Culture Read more

The Myth of ‘Afghan Black’ (1): A cultural history of cannabis cultivation and hashish production in Afghanistan

Jelena Bjelica Fabrizio Foschini

The cannabis plant is indigenous to the region of which Afghanistan is a part. Throughout human history, almost every part of the plant has been used – its fibres to make clothes, its oil-rich seeds as a food, its leaves, flowers, and resin as medicine, and of course, as a psychoactive drug. Hashish, made from […]

Context and Culture Read more

AAN’s most-read dispatches in 2018: So much war… and a little peace and justice

Kate Clark

Here at AAN, we have been looking back at what we published in 2018, in English and Dari and Pashto. We have also been considering what you, dear readers, have been most interested in. Compiling the list of our most-read dispatches in 2018 was a sobering task, says AAN Co-Director, Kate Clark (with data from […]

Context and Culture Read more
The residential quarters of the exiled Emir, looted and damaged in the 1990s. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

The Emir of Bukhara’s Forlorn Garden: Revealing Kabul’s hidden history

Jolyon Leslie

Kabul is a city of secrets. An outsider needs both curiosity and patience to discover the hidden layers that lie behind mud walls or at the end of dusty lanes. This heritage is however at risk from indiscriminate demolitions and new construction, much of which is uncontrolled. The stories behind places also risk being lost, […]

Context and Culture Read more

El Borak, N. Ullah and The Way to Turkestan: An AAN Context and Culture Eid Reading List

Thomas Ruttig

After the fighting in Ghazni and the atrocity at the learning centre in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighbourhood, this is another of these Eid holidays into which many go in a subdued if not even depressed mood. We at AAN share these feelings, and our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, their friends and […]

Context and Culture Read more
Persian tile showing pilgrims the layout of the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca, seen in Vienna's World Museum (Weltmuseum). Photo: Thomas Ruttig

On Eid al-Adha, AAN Wishes Afghanistan a Respite From War

AAN Team

This year’s Eid al-Adha comes at a time of escalating war and bloodshed, with horrendous violence across Afghanistan. Many have lost dear ones. Many have been injured. Many have been displaced. Many have seen their houses and shops on fire or destroyed. And the scars of this appalling war will remain for men, women and […]

Context and Culture Read more