Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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EAA Interview, Feature Article

EAA Interview with the Authors of “Fragments of the Afghan Frontier,” Benjamin D. Hopkins and Magnus Marsden

Benjamin D. Hopkins and Magnus Marsden are, respectively, a historian and an anthropologist. In 2011, they coauthored Fragments of the Afghan Frontier. The book is intended for both the public and scholars. In his review of Fragments, Mark Beautement, former UK Ministry of Defence district political officer in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan during 2009–10, who worked with British Commandos and US Marines, commented, “Fragments of the Afghan Frontier combines painstaking recent anthrop...

Feature Article

Introducing Afghanistan’s Culture in Your Classroom

I am a middle school teacher who has also spent extensive time in Afghanistan, and I am the author of A Far Away Home, a work of juvenile fiction set in the country. The following essay is a pedagogical mosaic that introduces a variety of resources that have worked for me, which can potentially assist middle, high school, and university teachers and students to understand Afghanistan culture. Sport, Art, and Architecture Picture yourself sitting about halfway up the stands on the fifty-yard ...

Feature Article

Aid Agencies and Afghanistan: The End of an Affair?

On a world map, Afghanistan—a country evoking images of conflict, violence, poverty, mass migration, and religious extremism to a Western audience—would appear as a somehow marginal place if it were not a focus of the global war on terror. However, it is also the destination of thousands of experts who conceive their endeavor as a struggle between the values of modernity (democracy, human rights, women’s empowerment, secular education, and accountability) and those of archaic traditions an...

Feature Article

The Spirit of Afghanistan: Tradition and Renewal Through the Arts

Today’s war-torn Afghanistan has complex origins, with many tribal cultures contributing to its identity. An important crossroad of Central Asia for many centuries, the region now known as Afghanistan has followed various religions and witnessed interacting artistic traditions. Trade routes, blurred borders, and the nomadic life have helped bring about rich cultural exchanges, while tribal affiliations have maintained specific customs and identities within groups. Afghanistan is again a co...

Feature Article

Music in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: An article about music would be incomplete without enabling the reader to listen to the music the author considers. Web links to examples of the music discussed here are located at the end of this article. The same links are on our website for easy access.   The Meaning of “Music” in Afghanistan The meaning of music in the West is broadly defined as humanly organized sound and includes both religious and secular music, both vocal and instrumental music, and music pe...

Feature Article

What History Can Teach Us About Contemporary Afghanistan

Almost every American today knows Afghanistan is located in the heart of Asia. We were not always that informed. When my wife and I learned in the summer of 1964 that we would be going as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) to Afghanistan, our family members and friends thought we were off to Africa. But after the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the ensuing military and civil presence of the US in that country, Americans are familiar with even more than the location ...

Feature Article

What History Can Teach Us About Contemporary Afghanistan

Afghanistan has a deep history that shapes the perceptions of the people who live there. Just how deep that memory goes, even among people who are illiterate and informed only by oral tradition, is striking. In the mid-1970s, the nomads I was living with in northern Afghanistan roundly condemned the Mongol invasion of the country—in 1220—and the long-lasting destruction it caused. It was a shame, they complained, that I had not been able to visit their region before that time when its econom...

Feature Article

Geographical Facts about Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked country slightly smaller than Texas, situated in southwestern Asia on the Iranian Plateau. The Hindu Kush mountain range runs northeast to southwest and divides the northern provinces from the rest of the country. On the north, Afghanistan borders Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan; in the east, China; in the west, Iran; and in the south, Pakistan. Borders and Topography  The total length of the Afghanistan border is 3,436 miles, and 44 percent of that bord...

Essay, Resources

How to Teach and Learn about Afghanistan: A Digital Humanities Approach: Why Study Afghanistan?

We all know about Afghanistan, but how well do we understand it? Afghanistan is America’s longest war, and millions of children from military families are affected by it, but only 12 percent of students can find Afghanistan on a map. The US hopes to transition from military to soft power as a way to stabilize the region and end the war, but, with so little knowledge and thinking about the region, there is little hope of finding peace unless education in and about the region becomes a higher pr...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

The United States in Afghanistan

THE CHOICES PROGRAM, 2011 WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES PROVIDENCE, RI: BROWN UNIVERSITY It is essential for today’s youth to acquire a broad set of skills to be active participants in the democratic process, yet teachers are often challenged to find quality teaching materials to facilitate classroom dialogue focused around current global issues. So how can educators teach their students to engage in civic learning activities to develop effective skills for participation in t...

Book Review, Resources

A Far Away Home

BY HOWARD FABER OMAHA: WRITELIFE PUBLISHERS, 2012 168 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1608080519, PAPERBACK A Far Away Home is a candid portrayal of life in Afghanistan over the past fifty plus years. In some countries such a story might be mundane or trivial. However, the life of protagonist Ali takes us through successive oppressors—the Soviets and the Taliban—and the entrance of the US military into Afghanistan in 2001. This is a novel that alternates between anguish and despair to hope and triump...

Book Review, Resources

India: Brief History of a Civilization

BY THOMAS R. TRAUTMANN OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 248 PAGES, ISBN:978-0199736324, PAPERBACK Finding the perfect textbook for a survey course can be daunting. Writing such a book is surely exponentially daunting. Thomas Trautmann, Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Michigan, understands the first point all too well, and he picks up the challenge of the second point with his unassuming yet impressive new book, India: Brief History of a Civilization, a book that mig...

Book Review, Resources

Ideas and Art in Asian Civilizations: India, China, and Japan

BY KENNETH R. STUNKEL ARMONK, NEW YORK AND LONDON ENGLAND: M.E. SHARPE, 2012 305 PAGES, ISBN 978-0765625410, PAPERBACK Ideas and Art in Asian Civilizations: India, China, and Japan is set apart from other surveys of Asia by a succinct examination of the cosmology and traditions of thought underlying seminal art and literary works from these three cultures. Explanations such as “[the] Chinese way of thinking is profoundly relational rather than sequential” (98) and “[the] poignancy of ...

Book Review, Resources

This Is Islam: From Muhammad and the Community of Believers to Islam in the Global Community

BY JAMAL ELIAS GREAT BARRINGTON, MA: BERKSHIRE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2011 152 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1933782812, PAPERBACK In one 111 pages, this slim volume takes the reader through the core elements of Islamic teachings and the main moments of Islamic history. It provides an accessible and succinct summary of the larger volumes that are conventionally used in semester-long survey courses on Islam. Although using this long-tested approach, Elias does not shy away from the complex issues within Isla...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

BY EZRA VOGEL CAMBRIDGE, BELKNAP PRESS, 2011 849 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0674055445, HARDCOVER This most important political biography of Deng Xiaoping argues that only Deng’s unique leadership strengths made China’s extraordinary economic rise possible. Senior scholar Ezra Vogel focuses on the period from 1969 to 1992. During Mao’s vigilante violence against and purges of people perceived as disloyal to Mao and his dogmas, a period known as the Cultural Revolution, Deng was sent to a rural fa...

Afghanistan Perspectives, Resources

The Taliban, Women, and Human Rights

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s government in 1996 and ruled until it was driven from power during the 2001 US-led invasion. The Taliban provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, an Islamic extremist organization that publicly executed criminals and outlawed education for women and girls. (note 1) Today, although progress has been made, and education is more accessible than under the Taliban, more than half of all Afghan girls still do not attend school. Underneath the surface of reported ...

Afghanistan Perspectives, Resources

The Afghanistan War: Diverse Voices and Viewpoints

Bing West’s Home Page http://www.bingwest.com/ Bing West served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Reagan administration. Bing was a combat Marine in Việt Nam, authored the counterinsurgency classic, The Village, and has been on hundreds of patrols in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Việt Nam. He has published widely on the war in numerous periodicals and journals, including Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal. West is a leading critique of the ...

Afghanistan Perspectives, EAA Interview, Resources

Interview with Master Sergeant Michael W. Howland: The War in Afghanistan

Master Sergeant Michael W. Howland (MSG) is currently Senior Military Instructor for the award-winning University of Mississippi ROTC program. MSG Howland entered active duty in the United States Army in 1988 when he enlisted as an Infantryman and graduated from Basic/AIT and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2000, he was assigned to US Army Special Operations Command, where he served until being assigned to the Rebel Battalion at the University of Mississippi in June 2010. MSG Howlan...

Afghanistan Perspectives, Resources

The Taliban: Important Points for Teachers and Students

1. The term “Taliban” means “students” in Pashto; the organization originated in Qandahar in the early 1990s; most members were Pashtu; they ruled over the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (1995–2001). 2. The Taliban emerged victorious in the civil war conflict with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan between 1992 and 1995, with military support of Pakistan and funding from Saudi Arabia. 3. The Taliban won control of Kabul and southern Afghanistan, and their numbers increased bec...

Afghanistan Perspectives, Resources

The Buddhas of Bamiyan

The Buddhas of Bamiyan looked over the Bamiyan Valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan for fifteen centuries. The two statues were carved into the side of a sandstone cliff at the foot of the Hindu Kush Mountains of central Afghanistan in 507 and 554 CE in the valley 140 miles northwest of Kabul. The Taliban destroyed them in March 2001— six months before the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City—in an attempt to cleanse the country of idolatry. (note 1) Af...