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 Nawruz! A blessed year 1395 to our readers

AAN Team

Dear readers and friends, the AAN team wishes you a blessed, healthy and hopefully more peaceful Afghan year 1395. This year spring has come early and many trees are already in full bloom. But this is no reason to abandon the tradition of getting some pink tulips from the north, Afghanistan’s new year flowers, to mark the beginning […]

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Magazine cover of "Top Notch" which published Robert E Howard's stories, including Hawk of the Hill - a El Borak story in June 1935

Afghanistan in World Literature (IV): Weird Tales from the Frontier

Fabrizio Foschini

Throughout the last couple of centuries, the way foreign authors, both novelists and scholars, have portrayed Afghans has had an impact on how Afghanistan itself is perceived. One such writer, a bestseller in his day, although now less well known, is the 1920s-30s fantasy and adventure writer, Robert E Howard. His novels stand out, says […]

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An Afghan tool to harvest opium 'latex'. Photo: (c) Andrew Weir.

On the Cultural History of Opium – and how poppy came to Afghanistan

Doris Buddenberg

Mention drugs or Google the word ‘opium’ and the link to Afghanistan will never be far away. No wonder, since over the last few decades, Afghanistan has become the largest opium producer in the world. But where did opium come from, how did it spread and what are its cultural expressions? AAN co-director Thomas Ruttig […]

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A Happy and Peaceful New Year!

AAN Team

  Dear friends and readers, Here at the Afghanistan Analysts Network we would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. May it be filled with good surprises and may it bring peace, in Afghanistan and in the wider world, closer. We will be here, together with you, closely following what is happening and hoping for a […]

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Lahndi Season: a delicacy and a feast in rural Afghanistan

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

Many find the arrival of fall and the beginning of winter depressing, but Lahndi, a traditional food feast in Afghanistan, makes the season something to look forward to. In certain ways, the anticipation of Lahndi can be compared to the way people around the world prepare for Christmas, with happiness; with one major difference, that […]

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Quarter of a Century of War in Pictures: Exhibition at ACKU

Kate Clark

An exhibition of war photographs taken in Afghanistan over the last quarter of a century is currently showing at the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University and will thereafter be available in its archive. American photographer Robert Nickelsberg has been visiting the country since 1988, catching moments on film that are variously historic, unsettling and tender. […]

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Svetlana Alexievich, during the 2015 Ryszard Kapuściński prize ceremony, Warsaw. Photo: Charta97.org.

Literature Nobel Prize for Svetlana Alexievich, author of 1990 Afghanistan book Zinky Boys

Thomas Ruttig

Svetlana Alexievich has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Among her many breath-taking and deeply unsettling books is one about Afghanistan. Published in 1990, Zinky Boys is based on interviews with former Soviet soldiers and their relatives in her Belorussian home country in the second half of the 1980s, then still a Soviet republic. […]

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Afghan Women’s Football: The players’ passion for the game

Kate Clark

This year’s Afghan women’s football tournament has kicked off with a match pitting Kabul against Bamyan, shown live on national television. Kabul proved too strong for Bamyan and won 10:0. Yet, the Bamyan players were unbowed: Kabul has many of the Afghan national team players on its side and female soccer players in Bamyan can […]

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A Peaceful And Delightful Eid al-Adha!

AAN Team

دافغانستان د تحلیلګرانو شبکه د نیکمرغه لوي اختر د رارسیدو له امله ټولي اسلامي نړۍ، په ځانګري توګه د افغانستان مسلمان ولس ته دزړه له کومي مبارکی وایي. هیله ده چي دلوي اختر له برکته په افغانستان کې سوله، ثبات او ورورولي ټینګه شي. زمو‌‌‌ږ ورستۍ مقاله د لوی اختر د نمانځنې په باره کې […]

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A Taleb Lost in a Polish Forest and More: Afghanistan in western films (part 2), 2001 to 2015

Christian Bleuer

Since 2001, there has been a relatively large number of western films that feature Afghanistan – either briefly or, in some cases, for the entire length of the movie. But despite the significant numbers of American and European mainstream films that deal with Afghanistan, there are few that truly explore the country and its people. […]

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The expedition after their arrival in Kabul, with Hentig (seated, 2nd from left) and Niedermayer (seated 3rd from l.). Photo from: Niedermayer's book, In der Glutsonne Irans.

Afghanistan in World War I (2): “England must lose India” – Afghanistan as a German bridgehead

Thomas Ruttig

100 years ago and a good year after the outbreak of World War I, a German political-military mission crossed the border into Afghanistan on the night of 19 to the 20 August 1915. Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer and Werner Otto von Hentig, a Bavarian military officer and a Prussian diplomat, both with Persian experience, led the […]

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“But This Gang Of Ministers Could Neither Fly Nor Swim Properly”: Memoirs from 1920s Afghanistan (Book Review)

Jolyon Leslie

In 1927, a tumultuous time for Afghanistan as King Amanullah attempted comprehensive social reforms, an Indian teacher, Syed Mujtaba Ali, came to Kabul. His travelogue, “In A Land Far From Home”, published in India in 1948, very entertainingly reports on Kabul during those days, recalling encounters on the street as well as with the Afghan […]

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