Altyn Saat – The Social Life of Gold Watches in the Afghan Pamirs.

by Tobias Marschall

The “Seiko Panj”, as Afghans renamed the quartz wristwatch produced in Japan, is sold cheap on Afghan markets. “Seiko” stands for the Japanese manufacturer and “Panj”, the Persian word for five, hints to the five years guarantee logos that accompany the product. “It was hip to wear one ten years ago,” as an Afghan friend told me, “now, everybody has a Seiko Panj in Afghanistan.”  Continue reading

A soldier’s story. Afghan War veterans and Soviet patriotism in Tajikistan.

by Markus Göransson

P1160694When Zafar was a platoon commander in Afghanistan during the Soviet war of 1979-1989, he put together an album that he has kept until this day. He labelled the album “Memory of Service” and studded its pages with photographs from his service and text cuttings that praised the Soviet military. On one page he stuck a banner that read “Glory to the defenders of the motherland”. On another he glued stickers of the Soviet army insignia and the Soviet navy flag. Some of his photographs show him standing proudly in his uniform, his face determined, in Afghan landscapes. Continue reading

A history of creation and destruction: To rebuild or not to rebuild Bamiyan’s Buddha statues?

bandeamir-2-1by Melissa Kerr Chiovenda

In Bamiyan, Afghanistan, locals’ discussions on Hazara history and recent oppressions faced by Hazaras would often incorporate the meanings that two Buddha statues, built in the 6th and 7th centuries and destroyed on March 10 2001 by the Taliban, held for Hazaras. During my stays in Bamiyan between 2011 and 2013, some individuals recalled myths that explained the statues as symbolising the foundational ancestors of Hazaras, while others considered them to be nothing more than un-Islamic idols. Against the background of these myths, many locals pondered whether the destruction of the statues by the Taliban epitomised the suffering of Hazaras that reaches far into history. Continue reading

Warlord or Ethnic Hero: Manipulation of the Media in Afghanistan

by Melissa Kerr Chiovenda

KERRWhen I first arrived in Afghanistan last summer to complete my dissertation fieldwork research on ethnic Hazara identity in Bamyan, reports surfaced that a few days earlier forces of Abdul Hakim Shujai, an ethnic Hazara and Afghan Local Police Commander in the Khas district, Uruzgan, had attacked several Pashtun villages in retaliation for the killing of two ethnic Hazaras.by Melissa Kerr Chiovenda

KERRWhen I first arrived in Afghanistan last summer to complete my dissertation fieldwork research on ethnic Hazara identity in Bamyan, reports surfaced that a few days earlier forces of Abdul Hakim Shujai, an ethnic Hazara and Afghan Local Police Commander in the Khas district, Uruzgan, had attacked several Pashtun villages in retaliation for the killing of two ethnic Hazaras. The Independent Human Rights Commission confirmed that he executed 16 Pashtuns. Shujai and his men were supported by US Special Operations Forces, making the situation even more concerning. Complaints by Pashtun locals to Kabul were so numerous that the government called for Shujai’s arrest. Continue reading