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.

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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The German expedition members also gave medical treatment to the local Nuristani population. Photo from: Herrlich, Land des Lichtes (1938).

The Hunt for the Holy Wheat Grail: A not so ‘botanical’ expedition in 1935

Thomas Ruttig

AAN has just reported about an area in Central Afghanistan, the Shah Foladi in the Koh-e Baba mountain range, that was recently declared a new conservation area for its botanical diversity. This reminded AAN’s co-director Thomas Ruttig of a first ‘botanical’ expedition – 80 years ago, in 1935 – to another isolated mountainous region of […]

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Happy, Sweet Eid Days To You!

AAN Team

With the long and hot days of Ramadan fasting over, we hope that the coming Eid Al Fitr holidays will bring some sweet time with family and friends to all of you. The Afghanistan Analysts Network wishes a peaceful Eid Al Fitr to all its friends and readers, to all Muslims and particularly to the […]

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Hamstrung by Translation: How to analyse Afghanistan in an Afghan language?

Borhan Osman

The most efficient languages to write about Afghan politics and society ought to be the two main languages of the country, Dari and Pashto. No foreign language can capture the various concepts native to Afghanistan as intricately as native speakers’ own languages do, for example in the case of Pashtunwali customs. However, the local languages […]

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Bamyan, First Ever Cultural Capital of South Asia: A big party, but what else?

Qayoom Suroush

Five months late and almost half-way through its crucial year, Bamyan has finally been inaugurated as the 2015 South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) cultural capital, the organisation’s first ever. Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, Second Deputy Chief Executive Muhammad Mohaqeq and Minister of Information and Culture Bari Jahani were among the guests who […]

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Post Runners, Aerogrammes and the Big E-Mail Challenge: Scenes from 135 years of Afghan postal service

Thomas Ruttig

Calling the pre-email postal service (hand-written letters, you remember, and postcards) “snail mail” has been appropriate for Afghanistan for most of the past century, and even before. Established in 1878, it took Afghanistan’s service half a century to become part of the international postal system. After that, it was cut off during long years of […]

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The Kabuliwala of Kolkata: Photo exhibition about a community longing for Afghanistan that once was home

Nazes Afroz

In the suburbs of Kolkata, India, lives, in seclusion, a little known community of migrants who once came from Afghanistan – the first of them around the year of 1840. Kabuliwala they are called, and the today 5000 people have managed to preserve the way of life they brought from Paktia, Paktika and Ghazni. Inspired […]

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Happy Nawruz! A blessed year 1394 to our readers – and a few poems for the occasion

AAN Team

Dear readers and friends, the AAN team wishes you a blessed, healthy and hopefully more peaceful Afghan year 1394. Should you be in Afghanistan (and allowed out), try and visit one of the many Nawruz fairs that are happening across the country (see a picture of a merry-go-round for children during a fair in Mazar-e Sharif […]

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Failings of Inclusivity: The Herat uprising of March 1979

Charlie Gammell

In the spring of 1979, Afghanistan was almost in open rebellion against the government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA); first uprisings happened around the country. One, that started today 36 years ago in Herat, succeeded in driving out the ‘Khalqi’ government and controlling the city for three days of chaotic independence in […]

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A Perfect (Snow) Storm: What can be done against avalanche damage in Afghanistan

Ikramuddin Bahram

After an exceptional dry winter, snow finally arrived in Kabul and the northern and central provinces. However, the sheer amounts of what should have been a blessing for farmers, turned into a catastrophe for some communities living in these areas, as the snowfall triggered a series of avalanches, claiming the lives of almost 300 people. […]

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One Day in a Year: Afghan views on International Women’s Day

Naheed Esar Malikzay

“The celebration of 8 March is a new concept, but Afghan women’s role in society has been respected for thousands of years,” President Ghani said in his speech for International Women’s Day on 5 March 2015, three days before the date. But if that is true, women’s rights activists asked after the event, why is […]

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