The Real Afghanistan

Ti­tle: Im­ages of Afghanistan - Ex­plor­ing Afghan Cul­ture through Art and Lit­er­a­ture Edi­tors: Ar­ley Loewen and Josette Mcmichael Pub­lisher: Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, (Au­gust, 2010) Pages: 350 pages, Hard­back Price: U.S. $40 ISBN-10: 0195477952 ISBN-13: 97801

Southasia - - Book review -

For cen­turies, the Afghans have been cre­at­ing, build­ing, writ­ing and draw­ing to cre­ate an iden­tity of who they are. Since 2001, hun­dreds of thou­sands of ex­pa­tri­ates have trav­eled to Afghanistan, in­clud­ing for­eign troops. They are keen to know more about this fas­ci­nat­ing coun­try and its peo­ple. Sev­eral mil­lion Afghans who now live out­side Afghanistan will en­joy this book as a keep­sake to re­mind them of their rich cul­tural her­itage. Li­brar­i­ans, pro­fes­sors and stu­dents of art, lit­er­a­ture and his­tory will also want to own this con­cise and re­li­able source.

‘Im­ages of Afghanistan’ pro­vides an over­view of the art and lit­er­a­ture of Afghanistan. Thirty two chap­ters of art, mu­sic, film, proverbs, short sto­ries, po­etry, car­toons and folk tales writ­ten in a pop­u­lar style of­fer in­sights into the com­plex­i­ties of Afghan cul­ture and dis­pel the mis­con­cep­tion that Afghanistan is only a haven for ter­ror­ists and drug deal­ers.

One hears of Afghanistan is usu­ally in con­junc­tion with ‘ter­ror’ or ‘Tal­iban.’ The me­dia speaks about the re­gion in a me­chan­i­cal, cold man­ner and brings out only the trou­bles af­flict­ing the re­gion rather than the in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing there. The world con­tin­ues to watch Afghanistan as a coun­try which reg­u­larly makes the head­lines but for all the wrong rea­sons.

Few peo­ple have more than a su­per­fi­cial un­der­stand­ing of Afghan cul­ture and the views of its peo­ple. Many know some­one who has served or is serv­ing in Afghanistan as part of the mil­i­tary, an aid worker or a busi­ness con­sul­tant. The war on ter­ror­ism and glob­al­iza­tion has kin­dled a de­sire to gain more in­for­ma­tion about Mid­dle East­ern and Cen­tral Asian cul­tures, es­pe­cially of Afghanistan.

The edi­tors, Ar­ley Loe­men and Josette McMichael, are ex­pa­tri­ates who re­al­ized the beauty of the Afghan and Per­sian cul­ture over their many years spent in the coun­try. The com­pi­la­tion of this work was an at­tempt to re­mind those watch­ing Afghanistan from afar as well as those liv­ing within that there is more to the coun­try than the war and vi­o­lence. In other words, this is an ef­fort that dis­pels the mis­con­cep­tion that this war-torn coun­try is sim­ply a dan­ger­ous breed­ing ground for ter­ror­ists and opium deal­ers.

The book looks broadly at two as­pects of Afghan/Per­sian cul­ture i.e. arts and lit­er­a­ture. In the chap­ters on art, the edi­tors have dis­cussed cal­lig­ra­phy, paint­ing, hand­i­crafts, mu­sic and cinema. Lit­er­a­ture in­forms the read­ers of the an­cient Per­sian tra­di­tion of po­etry and story telling, re­count­ing the Sufi mas­ter­minds and their works, as well as dis­cussing new lit­er­a­ture coming out of the re­gion.

The book is di­vided into seven sec­tions. The first part fo­cuses on learn­ing cul­ture, es­pe­cially through sto­ries and other art forms. It also gives a de­tailed his­tory of Afghanistan which pro­vides hooks on which to hang in­for­ma­tion in the re­main­der of the book.

The chap­ters on Dari clas­si­cal and mod­ern po­etry, short sto­ries, proverbs and chil­dren’s rhymes un­cover a range of per­spec­tives of Afghan cul­ture. Through an un­prece­dented look at tra­di­tional and mod­ern po­etry, short sto­ries, proverbs and tap­pas (Pashto rhymes), the third section brings Pash­tun cul­ture to life.

The fourth section an­a­lyzes di­verse

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.