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Current Issues in Anthropology: Afghanistan

-Temporary Exhibit-

End Date: 
Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Assadullah in Kabul bakery 2018 (Photograph by Ivan Flores, for article "In Kabul, Naan Endures, by Ruchi Kumar)

The Maxwell Museum's Current Issues in Anthropology exhibitions are timely displays that affirm out commitment to share information and create a forum to address current events and issues affecting our region and our world. 

Paired displays in the Hibben Center and the Maxwell Museum address recent events in Afghanistan and seek to share knowledge on recent history, provoke thought and encourage action 
Both exhibitions feature objects of every day life: hats in one and bread in the other.  Four hats in a variety of regional styles (and one necklace) are featured in a single-case exhibition in the Maxwell Museum.  In Afghanistan, as throughout the world, clothing styles signal ethnic identity, religious affiliation, and even political loyalties. Among the hats featured is a pakol, a felted wool hat from the Nuristan region of eastern Afghanistan. Because of their association with the Northern Alliance resistance to the Taliban, pakol hats were banned by the Taliban during their first period of rule from 1996 to 2001. This exhibition, curated by Carla Sinopoli, presents some general information on the history of Afghanistan, a landlocked nation of tremendous ethnic, linguistic, and environmental diversity located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Southwest Asia.  A timeline summarizes the last 40+ years of Afghan history, from the 1979 Soviet invasion to the 2021 U.S. departure.  
Bread, the main staple of Afghan cuisine, is the focus of a photo exhibition curated by Dr. Devorah Romanek in the atrium of the Hibben Center.  The significance and history of bread making, selling, and eating provide a lens into the recent history of Afghanistan. Long a male occupation, the large numbers of widows created by 40 years of war led to the rise of widows' bakeries and small woman-run operations. The social  and economic liberalization of the post-2001 period led to the flourishing of urban café culture, creating places where young men and women could interact. Today, these cafés have closed and the recent takeover by the Taliban coupled with the withdrawal of international donors and a catastrophic drought have intensified the hunger already experienced by many Afghan people. The price of wheat has risen dramatically and the United Nations' World Food Program estimates that 93% of Afghanistan's people are not getting enough to eat and as many as a million children may die of starvation this winter.  
A handout available near both exhibitions contains information on how you can help Afghani refugees in New Mexico and organizations providing aid in Afghanistan.