Conference Introduction by Nushin Arbabzadah, UCLA
From the communist, nationalist and Islamist movements of the 1960s through the years of war, exile and reconstruction that followed, the turmoil of Afghan history in the past half century has been at every step reflected in an extraordinary but little-known tradition of literature. What began as a self-consciously national literature was transformed with the mass exodus of refugees in the 1980s and 90s from a tradition rooted in Afghanistan’s geography and society to a literature of diaspora written in French and English no less than Dari and Pashto. From oral story-telling through the literary journals of the 1960s to the poetry websites of the present, the conference explores the whole range of genres and media through which this literature has been produced. By unraveling the tensions that are written through this literature -- of diaspora and homeland, globalization and tradition, community and nation, gender and expression -- the conference aims to highlight the ways in which Afghans of many different backgrounds have understood their own history from the Cold War to the Taliban and beyond.
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