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.

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 […]

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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 […]

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Happy Eid … اختر مو مبارک/عید مبارک

AAN Team

اختر مو مبارک/عید مبارک دافغانستان د تحلیل ګرانو شبکه د نیکمرغه لوي اختر د راسیدو له امله د افغانستان مسلمان ولس ته دزړه له کومي مبارکی وایي. هیله ده چي دلوي اختر له برګته په افغانستان ګی سولي، ثبات او روروالي تینګ شي شبکه تحلیل گران افغانستان فرا رسیدن عید قربان به مردم متدین و […]

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An Afghan ensemble performing at the Lycee Istiqlal in Kabul on February 23, 2011. Photo: Fabrizio Foschini

War and Exile Through the Musicians’ Eye: Professor John Baily’s account of four decades of Afghan music (book review)

Fabrizio Foschini

 “Music is essential for the very survival of man’s humanity.” In the opening lines of his book ‘War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan’, John Baily motivates his research with this quote from fellow ethnomusicologist John Blacking. For the author, who spent more than four decades researching and performing the music of Afghanistan alongside Afghan […]

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Andrew Quilty, an award-wining Australian photojournalist. Credit: Balazs Gardi

In the Light of the Conflict: Photographer Andrew Quilty’s experience in Afghanistan

AAN Jelena Bjelica

Afghanistan has been an inspiration for many photographers, but very few opt to base themselves in a war-torn country. Andrew Quilty, an Australian photojournalist, is an exception: he came to Afghanistan in 2013 and has been based in Kabul since. Many remember his haunting photographs taken in the ruins of the Kunduz hospital, a week […]

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Afghan kids celebrating Nawruz in Kabul. Photo: Christine Roehrs

Happy Nawruz! Wishing peace and happiness to AAN readers in 1396

AAN Team

After a long, cold, hard winter, Nawruz is finally here. Spring itself seems a little late this year. By 1 Hamal 1395, the trees were already in full bloom in Kabul. Not this year. Still, we are sure that balmier days will soon be here and, as the gardens awaken, the fragrance of flowers will fill the air. Here at AAN, […]

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Hazratgul Lawang (right) plays Rahimdad, the village barber, Abdul Qadir (left) plays Nasim in "New Home, New Life" with Watandost (centre). In this story, Nazir’s wife, Mahjabina, has been offered a teaching job. Nazir is hesitant. He wonders how would wider society view his wife’s employment and consults his friends in Upper Village. Photo: AEPO (2016)

Farewell to an Afghan legend: A tribute to radio actor Mehrali Watandost

Shirazuddin Siddiqi

Mehrali Watandost, one of Afghanistan’s most popular actors, has died. For 23 years, he played the role of the iconic character, Nazir, in the Afghan radio drama, “New Home, New Life” which is broadcast in Pashto and Dari on the BBC. Since launching in 1994, the show has never been off the air and Watandost’s […]

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AAN’s 50 Most-Read Dispatches: War, headgear, politics…

Kate Clark

AAN researchers, individually, each follow the topics that interest us – although we also keep an eye on overall output to make sure we keep our coverage broad and our topics various. But what about you, our readers: what are you interested in? Three years after re-vamping the AAN website in 2014, we took a […]

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What Links Sarajevo to Kabul? Impressions from the western end of the Persianate world

Thomas Ruttig

Sarajevo and Kabul lie over 4,000 kilometres apart. One feature that connects the two cities, however, is that both were destroyed during civil wars in the last decade of the twentieth century. Earlier this year, when AAN’s co-director Thomas Ruttig visited Sarajevo and other parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia during a vacation, he came across […]

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A decorated car often accompanies the bride as she travels from her parent’s house to the house of new in-laws. In this wedding in the Ibrahimzi area of Deh Yak district in Ghazni province, the bride price was 11,000 US dollars. (Author’s photo: 2014)

The Bride Price: The Afghan tradition of paying for wives

Fazl Rahman Muzhary

Weddings are hugely expensive affairs in Afghanistan, with excessive costs for wedding halls, lavish meals and usually a bride price. The bride price is the money paid by the groom’s family for the bride to her family. It is a contested tradition that is viewed as having no foundation in Islamic law and does not […]

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Reburial of Habibullah II (Kalakani) on Shahr Ara Hill. Photo: Pajhwok.

Who Was King Habibullah II? A query from the literature

Thomas Ruttig

The recent reburial of King Habibullah II – aka Habibullah Kalakani aka derogatively Bacha-ye Saqao (The Water Carrier’s Son) – that stirred up controversy and violence was another reflection of Afghanistan’s increasingly ethnicised politics. Competing narratives about historical events and the legacy of historical figures reflect deeper, underlying societal and political cleavages, both between ethnic […]

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Herat Shorts Festival: The effects of armed conflict on children, seen through a cinematic lens

Jelena Bjelica

What do a 16-year high school student, a middle-aged aviation engineer, a 29-year old tenth-grader in night school and a 45-year old doctor in the Afghanistan National Border Police have in common? Not just that all of them come from the western region (Badghis or Herat), but all of them were also competitors in the first-ever […]

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