Tag: Culture

What’s in a Woman’s Name? No name, no public persona

Across Afghanistan, women are not addressed or referred to by their names in public. Even on wedding invitations and tombstones, they are typically referred to as the daughter, wife or mother of their father, husband or eldest son. Many Afghans believe naming a woman in public dishonours her. Others are arguing that a tradition that […]

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

 “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 […]

Rambo Was Too Late: Afghanistan in Western films (part I), from 1909 to 2001

Afghanistan has rarely featured in western films, especially when compared to other foreign locales – from countries in Africa to Latin America to East Asia. This cinematic neglect is matched by the lower prominence that Afghanistan was accorded in the popular imagination and in western foreign policy during this era. Despite the shortage of films about […]

Cult, Culture and the Need for Public Education: Why the National Museum in Kabul has little meaning for Afghans

The National Museum has been a powerful symbol in the portrayal of Afghanistan’s recovery since 2002 and focus of intense international attention. However, the ‘narrative of loss’ that runs through portrayals of the museum’s recent history tends to displace serious discussion as to its role as an institution in today’s Afghanistan. After more than a […]

Memorials and Patrons: How northern Afghan elites try to own history

Elites in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh province and most important city in the north, have, in recent years, supported the building of new memorials and re-naming of the city’s streets and intersections. They are also sponsoring intellectuals and their literary and artistic output. These are politically driven cultural projects, attempts by the leading […]

Poetry in Motion: Love, war and politics on trucks

I am chasing you like a drone You have become al Qaida; there’s no trace of you Trucks painted in vivid colours and lettered with poems like the one above, which has borrowed the terms of war to describe love, are part of the “cultural landscape” along the dusty roads of Afghanistan, especially the south […]