“On a deeper level, it confirms basic premises of Pathan life: that wealth is not for amassing, but for use and is basically without importance, that only the weak man is attached to property and makes himself dependent on it, that the strong man bases his position on qualities within himself and people’s recognition of these qualities, and not on control of people by the control of objects.”

— Fredrik Barth, Pathan Identity and Its Maintenance

I AM A GIRL is a documentary featuring stories of young women from Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Cameroon, Afghanistan, USA and Australia. This looks like an excellent film to discuss intersections of identity and experience from the sociology of race, culture, gender, class, nationality and sexuality. It’s screening in Australia from today in Brisbane, and then moves to Adelaide, and Canberra. Finally arrives in Melbourne, from 26th September. Can’t wait to see it and I’ll tell you more about it when I do.


“The mobile phone is like a teacher to me, and now I can write names and sentences on the board. This programme isn’t just helping me it’s also helping make my country safer.”

Read a story from United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) News Centre and see how mobile phones in Afghanistan are not only teaching the women police officers to read but turning them into more effective law enforcement officers.

Street Art and Distinction in Kabul, Afghanistan

By Zuleyka Zevallos

In the photograph below, street artist Shamsia Hassan is featured in front of one her graffiti creations in an industrial park in Kabul, Afghanistan. Hassan was featured today in The Guardian, where she argues that many people in Afghanistan have not been exposed to (non-religious) art, but she sees that graffiti is a way to change that. She says: “If we can do graffiti all over the city, there will be nobody who doesn’t know about art”. To many people in “Western” countries, Shassan’s comments might seem to be consistent with the dominant view that Afghan people exist in a “backward” social vacuum. From the outside, Afghans are perceived to live in a society untouched by modernity and completely ravaged by war. This view fails to recognise the history of Afghanistan, as well as the cultural and educational diversity amongst urban and rural groups from different tribes in different regions. Moreover, I see that Hassan’s comments about street art go to the heart of much of Bourdieu’s work on taste and distinction.


Continue reading Street Art and Distinction in Kabul, Afghanistan

The French army is in Afghanistan at the service of the Afghans against terrorism and against the Taliban. The French army is not in Afghanistan so that Afghan soldiers can shoot at them.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced that France is suspending its training and combat mission in Afghanistan after a soldier in the Afghan National Army killed four French soldiers in Taghab valley in the eastern province of Kapisa earlier today. He also said that France is now contemplating an early withdrawal. Check out my Storify of this piece of news! (via thepoliticalnotebook)


AINAK-6420.jpg by jeromestarkey on Flickr.

The Chinese state owned mining company MCC have built a camp at Mes Ainak, 35km south of Kabul, while archeologists are racing to excavate a series of ancient Buddhist monasteries before the bulldozers roll in. The Afghan government is desperate for the copper royalites, once mining starts, but officials familiar with the deal said the Chinise, having secured the rights to the deposit, appear to be in no hurry to start exploiting it. They are supposed to build a railway and a power station, but have not started either.