Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Northern Arizona creates online materials for common read, The Underground Girls of Kabul

9780307952493When members of the class of of 2020 arrive at Northern Arizona University in August, they will engage in thoughtful discussion on The Underground Girls of Kabul — Jenny Nordberg’s powerful and moving account of young girls who dress as boys in deeply segregated Afghanistan where girls have almost no rights and little freedom.

NAU has created materials to augment discussions: a chapter map to parse out topics and connect them to the text; a flier complete with author Jenny Nordberg’s campus visit information to promote the book and support discussion leaders; and a bookmark with title information.

Click here to read more about The Underground Girls of Kabul.

Click here for more information on the author’s speaking arrangements.

Click here to learn about similar materials that NAU created for their 2015 Common Reading program feature Bryan Stevenson and Just Mercy.

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Girls as Boys: Disguising Identity & Changing Gender in Afghanistan

9780307952493By Jenny Nordberg, author of The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan (Crown, September 2014)

Bacha posh, the practice of dressing a girl like a boy, offers a window into a system of severe gender apartheid—a system that exists not only in Afghanistan, but in many countries where women are oppressed. The Underground Girls of Kabul is about disguising oneself to survive in such a place.

Resistance to this kind of patriarchy has occurred throughout history when women were excluded from education and unable to freely choose who they married, or whether to have children. Many girls and women beyond Afghanistan, and in our own history, have had to pretend to be boys and men to reach for rights that society dictated were not theirs.

I wanted this book to be urgent. Because I am, frankly, angry that my own education did not include a conversation about why women have historically been seen as less valuable and less important than men—nor where these ideas come from. It was always presented as an accepted, unexamined fact. In my book, I’ve searched for the roots of these beliefs, in religion, biology and culture. Continue reading

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Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya on Writing His Novel The Watch

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s new novel, The Watch, takes a timeless tragedy and brings it into present-day Afghanistan. Taking its cues from the Antigone myth, Roy-Bhattacharya recreates the chaos, intensity, and immediacy of battle, and conveys the inevitable repercussions felt by the soldiers, their families, and by one sister. This books takes students through the reality of this very contemporary conflict, and both the nature and futility of war.  Read what the author has to say about his new novel:

The decade-long war in Afghanistan is America’s longest war, Britain’s most expensive war since World War II, and NATO’s first major war outside Europe.

In terms of casualties, the U.S. and U.K. apart, the Afghan theater has seen Canada’s highest combat casualties since the Korean War; Australia’s highest combat casualties since Vietnam; France’s highest combat casualties since Algeria; the highest combat casualties for Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden since World War II; the highest combat casualties for the Netherlands since the Dutch withdrew from Indonesia in 1949; the highest combat fatalities for Spain since the Ifni War in Morocco in 1958; and the highest combat casualties for Poland in a foreign war since World War II. As for Afghan civilian and military casualties, we have no definite numbers.

When I set out to write The Watch, I wanted to give voice to the statistics, especially those counted as collateral damage Continue reading

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