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Asia Society
Homeland Afghanistan

Geography and Destiny For centuries, scarce resources and difficult terrain have required people in the Hindu Kush region to develop unique solutions to survive. But while geography has brought challenges, it has also offered opportunities. In Afghanistan, geography is a multi-sided destiny.

Identity and Perception Local, tribal, and religious identities in the Hindu Kush region have always shifted depending on one’s point of view. As Afghanistan decides what it means to be Afghan, it faces a kaleidoscope of moving perspectives.

Tradition and Modernization Afghans have always had to be flexible. At times, this flexibility has brought people together, and at other times it has torn them apart. Reconciling tradition and modernization means making sense of what’s at stake when people change--and when they don’t.

Traces and Narratives History is not always written. Much of what we know about Afghanistan comes from scattered artifacts, symbols, and oral traditions. Understanding these traces means piecing together the narratives that history leaves behind.

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Afghanistan in the World

Reveal Source

Burke, John. "Group. The Amir Yakub Khan, General Daod Shah, Habeebula Moustafi, with Major Cavagnari C.S.I. & Mr Jenkyns [Gandamak]." Digital image. British Library. Accessed August 29, 2010. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/g/019pho000000487u00100000.html.

Dupree, Nancy. Daoud Leaving after Being Elected President. 1977. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

Inauguration of the Band-I-Ghazi Dam. 1925. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

K-00301-08. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

KES-1789-A-1158. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

KES-906-A-275. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

KES-934-A-303_1. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

KES-938A-A-307. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.
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KES-939-A-308. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

KES-956-A-325. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.

Omar, Mohammad, performer. "Rubab Solo." In Music of Afghanistan. Smithsonian Folkways, 1961, CD.

"Phonograph Record Store." Digital image. Foreign Policy. Accessed August 29, 2010. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/27/once_upon_a_time_in_afghanistan?page=0,19.

Rattray, Lieutenant James. Interior of the Palace of Shauh Shujah Ool Moolk, Late King of Cabul. 1848. Courtesy of the British Library Board, London.

Rattray, Lieutenant James. Kelaut-I-Ghiljie. 1848. Courtesy of the British Library Board, London.

"Save Me From My Friends!" 19th C. In Afghanistan Old Photos. http://www.afghanistan-photos.com/crbst_26.html.

Simpson, Sir Benjamin. Ruins of Old Kandahar Citadel. 1881. Courtesy of the British Library Board, London.


Producer: Kate Harding

The clans of Afghanistan began uniting and forming their own, independent nation. With this solidarity, they entered a long period of balancing their own interests with those of modern global empires.



Investigate Afghanistan's place in the emerging modern world.

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