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Flawed Justice After a Mob Killed an Afghan Woman

Flawed Justice After a Mob Killed an Afghan Woman | Geography Education | Scoop.it
At first, the trial and convictions in the death of Farkhunda Malikzada seemed a victory in the long struggle to give Afghan women their due in court. But a deeper look suggests otherwise.
Seth Dixon's insight:

DISCLAIMER: I strongly recommend that the video not be shown in class (I wouldn't show the embedded video in my college classes, but I would discuss the article).  The video is as horrific as anything I've ever seen and yet I feel compelled to share the story because it is important to understand the cultural and institutional problems of Afghanistan to get a handle on the deeply entrenched issues. This also shows parts of Afghanistan are seeking to make the transition into a more modern society, but there are other elements that are firmly rooted in the past where mob rule was once more easily justified.  

 

Tags: Afghanistan, culture, developmentgender

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Choices Program--Scholars Online

Choices Program--Scholars Online | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Scholars Online Videos feature top scholars answering a specific question in his or her field of expertise. These brief and informative videos are designed to supplement the Choices Program curricula.

Seth Dixon's insight:

In this Scholar's Online video, Jennifer Fluri briefly answers this question: How has Afghanistan's geography affected its history?  This video nicely shows how contested international disputes have geographic dimensions to them.  The very borders of Afghanistan were created out of geopolitical maneuverings.


Tags: Afghanistanborders, politicalculture, Central Asia, historical, colonialism. 

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Louis Mazza's curator insight, March 25, 2015 2:59 PM

In this video Jennifer L. Fluri explains the borders of Afghanistan. At first Afghanistan was used as a border outline between Russia and British India. The border facing India was named the Durand line, after Sir Durand, who convinced the leader of Afghanistan to respect the line.  There is Iranian/Persian influence in Afghanistan also with the celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian/Persian New Year. That is because Southern Afghanistan was part of Iran in 1502-1736, under the Safavid Empire. Also Dari is one of the main languages spoken in Afghanistan which came from Persia. She ends the video saying “where Afghanistan is today both culturally and geopolitically has to do with their geography”

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 7:15 AM

Afghanistan's current borders are the result of political maneuvering between empires. Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor is a result of this political maneuvering. The corridor was created in order to prevent the Russian Empire and British India from sharing a common border. While many afghans may decry the notion, Afghanistan has been shaped by foreign influence. The same can be said for almost every other nation on the globe. Almost all borders are determined by some from of political maneuvering. Our borders with Mexico and Canada have been determined through treaties and wars.

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 21, 2015 12:24 PM

As I have learned more about the world, it's been interesting to see how arbitrary national borders can sometimes be. I think we are taught in school to associate "nations" with "nationalism," and although that is generally the case for most industrialized nations (whose citizens generally feel they are "nationals" within their own borders), it is not always true for the rest of the world. We see this in the numerous ethnic disputes in African nations, in the violent Yugoslav wars in Europe, and today with the Kurd uprising in Syria and Iraq- we see ill-defined borders that do not meet the needs of their peoples, nations that do not encompass the same sentiments of nationalism. As a result, we see indifference between these various peoples at best, or open conflict between varying ethnic and ideological groups at worst. Afghanistan as we know it today is not the result of self-determination or a sense of nationalism, but geopolitical jockeying between Russia and the United Kingdom. It is not a nation, but a political buffer.

As a result, Afghanistan does not act as a single nation- it may have a central government, but that government is incredibly weak, and people in remote areas often do not even know of its existence. Afghanistan is a series of small city-states and even more isolated settlements clumped together behind arbitrarily drawn lines, living their lives in much the same manner their ancestors did 1,000 years ago. This has made the mountainous, isolated regions of the nation a haven for terrorists and religious extremism, posing a serious issue in the region that, despite billions of dollars and a decade of fighting, the US has been unable to find a solution for. Divided amongst itself, Afghanistan is a nation in name only, something that the West likes to place on the map because of a dispute between two global powers nearly 2 centuries ago.

 

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A Life Revealed

A Life Revealed | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Seventeen years after she stared out from the cover of National Geographic, a former Afghan refugee comes face-to-face with the world once more.


The original cover is one of the more famous National Geographic photos of all time, and yet the woman in the photograph has not lived a life as though millions of people could recognize her eyes.  This is her story. 

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, November 3, 2014 1:58 PM

You can see in this woman's face that the years have been hard for her living as refugee. Although this seems like National Geographic giving themselves a pat on the back it is important to remember that this women became a national symbol for refugees and yet her life did not improve and furthermore she had no idea that her picture was so well known.

David Lizotte's curator insight, February 27, 2015 6:36 PM

I never would have imagined the "Afghan girl" being alive. It's amazing how National Geographic was able to catch up and speak with her and photograph her. This demonstrates the pure professionalism and global outreach national geographic has. 

One of the things I am most thankful about is that I do not live in a war torn society. Being separated from my family, forced to flee and become a refugee is a horrid way of life that I know I would struggle to endure. Some Afghanistan people have been doing this for over twenty years. 

One time I was having a discussion with my friend. We talking about America and the westernized part of the world. He and I agreed how lucky we were to be born in America. We were born white males in the United States of America. We could have been born a woman living in Iran or Iraq, or even as a little rural Afghan boy whom would eventually be taken and abused by theTaliban. We kept going on with different scenarios and different countries. 

Want I want for people to realize is how advanced the United States of America is. Yes, we have our problems... but non comparable to other nations. Look at nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. These are first world nations which have war torn regions occupied by terrorists of all sorts. They also have little to no functioning government, although Afghanistan is improving. Even second world nations, although developing at a steady pace are plagued with an exponential amount of violent crimes and corruption. South Africa would be a prime example. 

Its amazing to read about the "Afghan girl"(s) or better yet Sharbat Gula. After all she has gone through she still has hope for her younger children. After enduring such a life of foul experiences she is still able to place all her faith into Allah and hope for the best for her children. It is also neat to see her place such a high level of importance on education. Education is the foundation for all development. 

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 6:58 AM

These two images are rather striking. They depict seventeen years in the life a young female Afghani refuge. They depict seventeen years of hell. The woman in this photograph has lived a hard life. Seventeen years probably feels like fifty years to her. On her face, you see the effects of living a life as a refugee. A life of not having a true home or place that you can count on. A life of living in deplorable refugee camps. It is the shame of the world, that people are forced to live like this. Unfortunately this women's story is an all to common occurrence in Afghanistan. Thousands have suffered similar fates in refugee camps. We must never forget the suffering of these people.

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Daily Life in Afghanistan

Daily Life in Afghanistan | Geography Education | Scoop.it
We tend to look at Afghanistan through the lens of conflict, with good reason. Deaths of American forces recently reached 2000 in the 11 years since US involvement in the country began.


Yes, Afghanistan is a war-ravaged country; but it is also a place that families call home and where children play.  This photo essay is a nice glimpse into ordinary lives in Central Asia.


Tags: Afghanistan, images, culture, Central Asia

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Edelin Espino's curator insight, December 13, 2014 3:04 PM

In this photo essay you will see many pictures of the normal lives of afghan people. There is one of two young boys riding a donkey and one about a boxing wearing his best suit after hi won a fight the last night. He wanted to show his friends how happy he felt.

 

Good post.

Jason Schneider's curator insight, March 3, 2015 1:09 PM

It appears that Afghanistan has a poor economy. It's lifestyle is definitely different from the way we live in the United States. The buildings are not as well-developed as the buildings in New York City and Chicago. Also, Afghanistan seems to lack cleanliness which allows diseases to spread throughout the country, and perhaps throughout small parts of other countries that border it.

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, December 7, 2015 4:06 PM

Daily life in Kabul is a daily struggle as one of the most impoverished places in the world. They suffer from a lack of infrastructure to the lack of medicine in the hospitals. Many of the invasions that have occued have weakened a already weak country. That has led to many deaths and much fighting on the area. These images show many of the struggles that pepople go through on a daily basis. This was not just the people being in poverty but with the wars and stuff that have happened there has to led them to be even more worse off. 

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Not all Olympic champions stand on the podium

Not all Olympic champions stand on the podium | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Tahmina Kohistani’s Olympics lasted exactly 14 and 42/100ths of a second.

 

This is a great article that highlights the Olympic successes that are underreported.  Due to geographic circumstances, simply competing is a remarkable accomplishment.  The women participants from Afghanistan and Iran are highlighted in this article. 

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lelapin's comment, August 11, 2012 1:27 PM
great article indeed. Thanks for turning the spotlight away from the podium, for a change.
Meagan Harpin's curator insight, October 2, 2013 12:41 PM

The olympic games have become only about the podium winners in the media, if you dont win you dont matter. Tahmina Kohistani was the only female athlete from Afghanistan to compete in the games back in 2012. It is an amazing feat in itself that a female from Afghanistan even managed to get to the games never mind partacipate. She didnt win, she finished last, but it was her personal best time and the fastest she had ever run the 100 meter. But because she was not up on that podium none of that matter and many people did not even know she had run the race.  

Kendra King's curator insight, February 28, 2015 11:12 AM

The coverage of the Olympics after opening ceremonies is heavily centered on the medal count and I don’t actually see a problem with that. Reason being is that the story, that supposedly never got coverage, was something I remember commentators speaking about when the Afghanistan team walked out on stage during the opening ceremonies thereby showing how “politics and social culture” are intertwined. Her journey qualified her as a “champion” right away and people saw that. Secondly, when there is a ridiculous amount of events and people to cover, one needs to pick and choose. Since the point of the Olympics is to win, it isn’t surprising that the most coverage is given on the metal winners. There are stories outside of Kohistani’s in which someone who didn’t make it to podium was covered (i.e. winter Olympics regarding Ryan Bradly or Jonny Wier). Typically when that happens though, the person is from our own country. What I think is wrong with the coverage is the huge focus on just our country. While the Olympics is a time where patriotism surges as we root for our own team, it is a symptom of a large problem. Americans are too America-centric in general. Just looking at the normal daily news cover in the states is a clear indication of the issue and I think that is why some of the more analytic pieces that show “politics and social culture” are generally under reported

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A Fateful Harvest: Afghanistan under siege

Afghanistan supplies virtually all of the world's illegal opium. For Afghans themselves, however, feelings about poppy are conflicted: It's harmful to their ...

 

Part 1 of an 8 part series on youtube documenting the opium-growing process and how the Taliban manages it.  Agricultural production and rural land use can absolutely play a huge role in geopolitics and cultural patterns and processes, as evidenced by this example.  For more resources on the Afghanistan drug issue, see: www.scoop.it/t/funding-the-taliban-with-opium

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Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, April 1, 2015 7:10 PM

Most people would agree that Opium is a devastating addiction.  But what most of us don't see is the other side of the drug trade. This video shows the vulnerability of the drug-dealers and poppy-farmers.  The Afghanistan government finds and destroys a poppy farm and the interview with a boy of the farming family is riveting.  You can't help but feel bad for these people, especially the children who are directly effected by it.

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 8, 2015 12:49 PM

Drug trafficking is a problem all over the world, but this is really something else.  Realistically, these people are just growing flowers, but it's their intent that is the problem.  I was always aware that Afghanistan was a major producer of drugs, but I had no idea the extent. I agree that if someone has illegal drugs, that they should be punished.  But these poppies are these people's life line.  That's not to say that what they are doing is acceptable, but you can't help but feel bad.  They live in a poor region where they are doing what they need to just to feed their families. It's kind of heartbreaking, but there are laws against these drugs for a reason, and they should be penalized.  Then there is the question of how do they choose one family to punish, when this is clearly a huge problem that is not easily hidden; these people are growing these plants in plain sight.  The government has every right to punish them, and as upset as they are to have their crop destroyed, I would think it's got to be better than getting thrown into an Afghani prison.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, March 9, 12:07 PM
unit 5
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NYTimes video: "Skateistan"

NYTimes video: "Skateistan" | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Afghan youth have very limited options for sports and recreation. An Australian man is trying to change that."  Issues of ethnicity, class and gender are right on the surface.  Globalization, cultural values and shifting norms make this a good discussion piece.  


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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, November 3, 2014 2:03 PM

This is a good example of the use of soft power in areas where American culture is not popular. Instead of using military force to exert western Ideals on the people of Afghanistan. This Australian may have found a way to close the gap towards bringing our cultures  closer together.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 14, 2014 8:01 PM

In a society that is seen by most of the world as strict and rigid, it was interesting to see these children having fun and breaking the mold of traditional afghan kids. What makes this even more fascinating is that female children are doing some of the skating. With gender issues a hot topic in some Middle Eastern countries, letting kids have fun before being made to conform to tradition is a nice experience for them. While they still respect the culture to they belong to, it is a break from that and a breathe of fresh air for them. These youth are not seen primarily as men and woman, but as children.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 6:33 AM

Who could have imagined, that Skateboards could be used as a geopolitical tool? Over a decade ago, the United States invaded Afghanistan with the aim of rooting out and destroying the terrorist who attacked the nation on 911. As with most of our military campaigns in the Middle East, the mission quickly became bogged down in a nation building campaign. The people of Afghanistan have long been wary of foreign influence. Empire after empire has attempted to conquer this nation, only to suffer humiliating defeats. For any chance at sustained success, the United States must win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. This skateboard program is a perfect tool in accomplishing that objective. The parks bring all types of youths together in the spirit of fun. They are a unifying factor amongst the youth in Afghanistan.

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The United States in Afghanistan

The Afghanistan War has become one of the longest in U.S. history. United States military forces entered Afghanistan in late 2001, a few months after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

 

Associated with this video clip is a set of seven lesson plans in a unit about the United States War in Afghanistan.  Find the lesson plans with supplemental materials (graphic organizers, maps, photos, etc.) for a unit on The Afghanistan War at the Choices Program webpage.

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Amanda Morgan's comment, October 18, 2014 3:39 PM
I find this video along with the lessons for the Unit on teaching the War in Afghanistan useful. By the time I become a teacher, we will be teaching 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The aftermath of bring home troops is what we are waiting to see as the video suggests, will it change our relationship with the region now that we have said enough is enough? I am eager to teach students about this because it is history in the making that is directly affecting their lives as Americans.
Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 11:22 AM

There's a reason that Afghanistan is called "the Graveyard of Empires". It's a centrally located country and one that has been the center of a lot of political and military turmoil over the course of its lengthy history. Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S. have all conducted campaigns of some sort within Afghanistan's borders and they have all been long, costly, and/or unsuccessful. Some of those campaigns were launched simply in the interest of empire building, others with the intention of providing assistance (or at least under that guise, anyway). Whatever the case may be, Afghanistan is a country constantly experiencing turmoil and strife as a result of other countries' interests and intentions. 

 

In many ways, Afghanistan has always served as a proxy in the same way that the Balkans, and later Vietnam and Korea, did for Russia in the beginning and middle of the 20th century. It has almost never been allowed to exist unhindered on its own and to work towards its own interests and issues. Instead, Afghanistan has served as a waypoint for larger, wealthier, and more powerful nations throughout history. Oftentimes, these countries are so far geographically removed from Afghanistan that it begs the question: why are these other countries getting involved? The simple answer is imperialism. Though it may not exist today in the same sense that it once did, the desire of nations to build empires and be a part of globalization is still a very real one, and one that affects smaller and poorer countries around the globe. 

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 6:43 AM

The United States continues to be bogged down in Afghanistan. Last week President Obama announced that we will be keeping troops in Afghanistan past 2016. This means that Obama will hand this war off to his successor in January 2017. That successor will become the third president to oversee this war effort. In recent years, this war has slowly dripped out of the headlines. In a twenty four hour news cycle, the war has become old news. However, we should not forget that American soldiers are still being placed in harms ways everyday in this nation.

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Countries Divided on Future of Ancient Buddhas

Countries Divided on Future of Ancient Buddhas | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Thirteen years after the Bamian Buddhas were blasted into rubble, opinion is split on whether to leave them as is, rebuild them, or make copies of them.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This video and article work together to show a 'behind-the-scenes' glimpse of this heritage site, or the remnants of the old memorial which is an iconic part of the cultural landscape in their own right but for very different reasons.  This is a great example of sequent occupance and some of the difficulties in preserving heritage.  Some argue that by restoring the Buddha it will undo some of the damage done by the Taliban and create a tourist destination; others think that the damaged Buddha is a poignant reminder of problems with 'topocide' and religious intolerance. 


Questions to Ponder: What do you think should become of this place?  How come?    


Tags: Afghanistan, politicalculture, Central Asialandscape, perspective.

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Bob Beaven's curator insight, March 19, 2015 12:46 PM

Most people often forget that the Silk Road passed into Central Asia and the Middle East from East Asia.  This means that along the road, travelers often put things that reminded them of home.  The Buddha statues that once existed in Afghanistan are an example of this.  They were in fact labeled a world heritage site.  Sadly, the Buddhas had been ravaged throughout history by radical arabs.  This is because their religion frowns upon (actually forbids) idols, which they considered the statues to be.  Although they had been tempered with for many years, the Taliban finally decided to blow them up in 2001.  Now, there are differing opinions across various countries as to whether they should be rebuild or not.  Afghanistan believes that they should be rebuilt so the government can claim a symbolic victory over the Taliban.  Unesco wants a restoration done right, so for now it won't allow rebuilding to occur.  Germans tried to rebuild them, but Unesco blocked it from happening.  South Korea, Italy and Japan are all willing to donate money, but have no mention of the statues.  I believe that the statues should be rebuilt, as the article points out monuments were rebuilt in France after Protestants burnt down many old Gothic Cathedrals.  I also believe it is necessary because we cannot let the culture of hate that the Taliban believes in to win.  Average Muslims realize that the statues have historical significance and that they do not need to worship Buddha to respect that this site was 1,500 years old.  I also think it would send a strong message from the Afghan government if the statues were rebuilt because it would show they, like the article states, are not going to let the Taliban rule their country.

 

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, April 7, 2015 9:42 PM

I find it interesting that other countries are divided.  Why are they deciding the future for this country?  They can't seem to get out of their ways to come up with a real solution.  Its unfortunate.  

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 11:40 AM

this is a reminder of what extremism can do to ancient works of art that they view as heretical. these ancient, massive statues were carved out of living rock by ancient Buddhists, and had withstood the test of time until Afghan terrorists blew them up.

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The Geography of Afghanistan

The Geography of Afghanistan | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Students are introduced to the physical and human features of Afghanistan."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This tremendous set of resources is the result of a partnership between The Choices Program (housed at Brown University) and National Geographic Education.  This link takes you to a portal with lesson plans, videos, maps, student worksheets, etc.  These are some of the materials that form the core of the Choices Program Summer Institute that focuses on the United States' involvement in Afghanistan.  


Tags: Afghanistan, politicalculture, Central Asia, National Geographic.

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David Lizotte's curator insight, February 27, 2015 6:04 PM

Afghanistan is a unique country that is plagued by the media as war torn and savage. Not much about Afghanistan cultural geography and how ordinary Afghan people function is represented by mainstream news organizations and other forms of western media. Its a shame. 

Afghanistan is a mountainous country thus creating four distinct regions that have more or less there own identity. This has been seen throughout history. Geography can keep a nation separated culturally and tougher to govern on a political scale as well. This is especially present in lesser develop nations. For example Ancient Greece was tough to keep politically sound due to its nonstop Mountains. This makes communication difficult, especially in a timely fashion. It also keeps people separate from each other leading people to create there own culture. Italy is another example in regards to the Industrial North being an extreme opposite of the agricultural south. The Northern Italian geography was heavily influenced by other European industrial nations while the agrarian south remained simple. These two separate identities have been present for some time and have continued to produce conflict since the forming of the Country Italy in the late 19th century. None the less, Afghanistan is another example of geography separating a country. However the geography also gives birth to different styles of living.

People in rural Afghanistan still practice pastoralism. The movement of livestock by changing of seasons is complemented by farmers growing of crops such as barley, nuts, wheat, and fruit, just to name a few. These people mostly live off of what they produce. Within the past decade Afghanistan has undergone a process of urbanization. I argue its due to westernization of the potential/growth of a Central Business District. The respected main cities in the four different regions, especially Kabul have seen a huge population growth. This is due to cities offering education and economic mobility. The standard of living is higher and attracts people from rural areas. I can imagine it is attracting relatively young people ranging from 15 to 30 years of age whom are seeking a different way of life.

The cities rely on the rural regions for certain supplies of food and the rural regions rely of manufactured goods. Its nice to see Afghanistan pastoralists not  being luddites and excepting technology as a positive force.

My perception on Afghanistan is that its a first world country. However it is starting to form the foundation for lifting itself from first world to second world. Afghanistan has a new government (western influenced), which is essential in developing a nation. However there are signs of corruption. If able to establish a more sound country, it can begin to build its economy from within and spread outward. With becoming more politically and economically developed Afghanistan would become a second world nation. Afghanistan has a lot to go through before it can be considered second world. 

Danielle Lip's curator insight, March 4, 2015 11:27 PM

Once I opened this portal I was amazed with how many resources were available, having worksheets, maps, lesson plans and videos really can help a teacher to get more in depth while teaching about Afghanistan. Having the opportunity to let the children watch video's can really help the visual learners in the classroom and well s the auditory learners. The lesson plan talks about the history and people in Afghanistan as well as maps that help trace out ethnicities in the region.The video on daily life would really help show the children how different their lives are from those in Afghanistan, to create an assignment from the video the children could do a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the lives of the average United States citizen and the daily life of someone living in Afghanistan.

Every area in the world has a different geography  and I believe it is important for everyone whether it be students or adults, everyone should learn about each region to get an understanding of how other people are living in the world around us.

As a history, social studies or geography teacher I would come back to this lesson plan and enlighten my children using the Common Core Standards so when they venture out in the world they have a grasp of what is going on around them.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 3:52 PM

From this, I learned that the borders are shaped for Russia and British India to have uncommon borders. Having friendly ties with Pakistan has a lot to do with the Soviet presence with in Central Asia. It is predominantly agrigul society. 20% live in urban areas and 80% live in rural areas. Urban spaces tend to be more modernized with water and electricity.  Those in the rural areas have had no running water and have been living their lives without and in a way in which we would not be used to. People in rural areas cook on open fire, life for women is very labor intensive, so it is good for big families because then the children can help, both in and out the house. 

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The Corner Where Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan Meet

The Corner Where Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan Meet | Geography Education | Scoop.it
In the dusty triangle where Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan meet, there is more than one war going on.


Geopolitically, there is a fascinating confluence of competing interests at this border.  This is "the scariest little corner of the world." It's a dangerous place that is often beyond the authority of any of state.  It also represents (depending on how you divide the world up) at the intersection of the three major regions in the area: Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia.      


Tags: Afghanistan, political, borders, MiddleEast, SouthAsia, Central Asia, unit 4 political.

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Meagan Harpin's curator insight, October 15, 2013 9:35 PM

This is a dangerous place with no authority. This area is filled with fighting, bombing and constant war. But this area is also an important intersection for three major regions Central Asia, Middle East, and South Asia. 

Cam E's curator insight, March 4, 2014 11:35 AM

A meeting of different worlds at a border. I can't imagine the things one would see or hear living or growing up on a border of conflict such as this. Refugees are a common site, and no authority can dominate the others, making the area effectively lawless.

Edelin Espino's curator insight, December 13, 2014 3:19 PM

This note talk about the place in the desert where three hostile countries confront each other on the infinite war.

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Afghan Troops Get a Lesson in American Cultural Ignorance

Afghan Troops Get a Lesson in American Cultural Ignorance | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Afghan troops are told that insulting behavior by Americans is an oversight, not a slight.


Cross-cultural interactions can be beautiful when immersed into a new cultural setting and the visitor learns to appreciate it.  Unfortunately, it can often lead to clumsy missteps that are born out of ignorance of a new guiding set of cultural norms.  Some missteps can lead to great laughter while others can be gravely insulting.  The United States military seeks to train U.S. soldiers about Afghan customs, but they are trying a new tactic as well to minimize these issues.  The U.S. military has prepared a cultural guide to teach the Afghan soldier that they work with about the curious customs that are part of social interaction in the United States but not considered offensive. 


Tags: culture, war, unit 3 culture, conflict.

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Rich's comment, October 3, 2012 1:28 PM
We could have used an idea like this quite a long time ago. The cultural bridges have already been burnt to the ground.
Kendra King's curator insight, February 27, 2015 7:18 PM

I think the comparison to Vietnam at the start of the article shows just how little our culture learned last time. During the Kennedy administration, troops were given "guides" to inform them about the area as the article suggests. However, this "hearts and minds" strategy was a huge failure. So, what does the United States do? Send the army to a forghien country again  with "recommended readings" and superfine "video games." As a result, some are so offended they are killing American fighters. While I might think this a bit extreme, the US also came in the country in an welcomed manner to begin with. Furthermore, the west (overall) consistently looks down upon Middle East culture. Belittling a culture will eventually anger the people. It is common sense that is consistently overlooked. 

 

Something clearly needs to be done and while I think this strategy might not have immediate short term results, the military should continue on with the plan regardless. Currently, the tensions in the country are incredibly high. Clearly, what ever efforts the US put towards working with Afghanistan citizens came of as insincere. As such, people might just look at American's new attempt to work with them as a disingenuous effort. Furthermore, they might think calling it "ignorance," is just excusing Americans' actions. In the long term though, if done correctly, soldier's might actually learn to be more empathetic of the culture and more genuine so that the Afagni's might actually realize it all is just a "big misunderstanding" (there is a significant culture gap that will take time to learn) and not just laziness on the part of American's.    

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 7:30 AM

The mixing of two cultures can be both a blessing and a curse. The world is a better place when people of diverse cultures can have a mutual understanding of each other. However, in reality cultural roadblocks often disrupt progress. Often times the cultural misunderstandings are not that serious. However, in some cases those misunderstandings can lead to violence and death. NATO coalition troops have been killed by their Afghan counterparts over this issue of cultural misunderstanding. This current crises, has lead to a program that aims to teach the Afghans that the perceived slights are not done purposely. Hopefully this program will build better cultural understanding between the NATO allies and the Afghan army.

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Kabul, A City Stretched Beyond Its Limits

Decades of war, migration and chaotic sprawl have turned the Afghan capital into a barely functioning dust bowl. The city's tired infrastructure is crumbling; water, sewers and electricity are in short supply.

 

Keeping an urban system running smoothly is a difficult proposition in developed countries that are stable--what is in like a place like Afghanistan?  This podcast is a excellent glimpse into the cultural, economic, environmental and political struggles of a city like Kabul.  This is urban geography in about a problematic a situation as possible.   

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John Nieuwendyk's curator insight, October 26, 2014 9:06 PM

Kabul, a once thriving city is now the product of a war torn Afghanistan. During the fighting mass exodus left the city empty and uninhibited. However, after the war civilians fled back to the slums of Kabul in search of job opportunities. With little infrastructure, no electricity, no water due to evapotranspiration and deforestation and a serious overcrowding problem, residents lack the essential resources needed to survive. Due to the cities destabilized economy corruption runs rampant, in consequence it is unsafe to live in the city center. The advocation for city services is high upon the minds of the people. In response, compounds have been made in the foothills to house impoverished people. These compounds will help the overcrowding problem but the informal economy and dangerous shortcuts will further cause destabilization and create an unsafe city center. 

 

 

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 16, 2014 1:32 AM

This audio clip provided a detailed view of the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul. It doesn't speak of the city architecture instead it focuses on the failing logistics of the city. It talks about resource shortages and the sheer amount of people crammed within the city. These problems are largely caused by an influx of refugees from the war torn countryside flooding into the city for safety and work. This clip shows the Kabul of today, a ghost of its former prestigious self.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 3:37 PM

A war torn country of Afghanistan's capital city Kabul is in the mountains. With a population of five million people, the cities infrastructure is in ruins. Things we take for granted, water, sewers and electricity are all in short supply for Kabul. There is lots of money coming in to the country from corruption of opium trade. Due to terrible construction, it is assumed that when Kabul has their terrible earthquake that there will be much destruction. Cars pack streets that are unpaved and the streets are five to ten times more packed than they are planned out to be. Just to get from one side of Kabul to the other it can take hours. What the government needs to is control immigration and fix the problems that they currently have. 

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For Afghan Policewomen, Sex Abuse Is A Job Hazard

The Afghan security forces now include hundreds of women, but they can face significant risks. In the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, policewomen say abuse is widespread and even includes rape by their male colleagues.

 

Warning: this podcast is an uncomfortable listen, but truly highlights how different a world it can be for women in countries with rigid gender norms.  Gender norms and public space play a critical role in how many societies think about what is often considered "appropriate" behavior.  Discussion Points: what efforts should be encouraged in Afghanistan to prevent this sort of problem?  WHO should be sponsoring these efforts for them to be most successful? How might a 'good plan on paper' backfire if you don't understand the cultural geography of the region?    

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Jason Schneider's curator insight, March 2, 2015 9:49 PM

Women police officers and securities are pretty rare these days because women are unfortunately looked at as the weaker sex in comparison to men. According to my experiences in what young kids want to do for a living, many men who are police officers come from a high school jock background and overly-masculine persona. There barely have any sensitivity so they are more likely to become aggressive individuals.

Not too long ago, I watched the movie, human trafficking which involved sex slavery towards young girls and children being bought and sold by traffickers. The young female cop, played by Mira Sorvino,  went as an undercover sex trafficking victim which placed her in danger of being sex enslaved. Sometimes, when young, attractive police officers play a role in prostitution just to capture a suspect, they fail and end up being raped.

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How They Found National Geographic's "Afghan Girl"

How They Found National Geographic's "Afghan Girl" | Geography Education | Scoop.it
She was one of the world's most famous faces, yet no one knew who she was. Her image appeared on the front of magazines and books, posters, lapel pins, and even rugs, but she didn't know it.

 

While her image is iconic, her story is remarkably mundane and sadly representative of the many Afghan women who have lived in refugee camps. 

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Brian Nicoll's curator insight, December 12, 2012 12:28 AM

While the picture may be famous, she still represents depressing life that the women of her generation live.  I found it interesting that she had no idea that her photo was so iconic.  To have a photo taken of you that was used in for a variety of different things, all while not knowing about it is quite shocking.  As famous as the photo is however, it should not cloud the symbolism that the photo stands for. 

Paige McClatchy's curator insight, October 20, 2013 10:39 PM

I'm so glad that National Geographic found such an exotic specimen in the wild and that the US government graciously put its technology to use to catalog her..... seriously the Western fascination with the image of this Afghan woman, 1 of insanely many, is something I don't get. I think it makes us all feel "cultured" and "informed" when we can sit in the comfort of a dentist or doctor's waiting room and breeze through a Nat Geo cover to cover. A cheap thrill.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 4, 2014 10:38 AM

Her face was a publicity stunt. Her story is sad and is brutal. She was in a refugee camp but her story is only one of many. She didn't know she was the face of National Geographic and people have the image of her in their minds when they think of Aghani women.

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"Skateistan" The NYTimes video library

"Skateistan" The NYTimes video library | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Afghan youth have very limited options for sports and recreation. An Australian man is trying to change that."   This video really resonates with my students.  Issues of ethnicity, class and gender are right on the surface.  Globalization, cultural values and shifting norms make this a good discussion piece.  

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, November 3, 2014 2:03 PM

This is a good example of the use of soft power in areas where American culture is not popular. Instead of using military force to exert western Ideals on the people of Afghanistan. This Australian may have found a way to close the gap towards bringing our cultures  closer together.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 14, 2014 8:01 PM

In a society that is seen by most of the world as strict and rigid, it was interesting to see these children having fun and breaking the mold of traditional afghan kids. What makes this even more fascinating is that female children are doing some of the skating. With gender issues a hot topic in some Middle Eastern countries, letting kids have fun before being made to conform to tradition is a nice experience for them. While they still respect the culture to they belong to, it is a break from that and a breathe of fresh air for them. These youth are not seen primarily as men and woman, but as children.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 6:33 AM

Who could have imagined, that Skateboards could be used as a geopolitical tool? Over a decade ago, the United States invaded Afghanistan with the aim of rooting out and destroying the terrorist who attacked the nation on 911. As with most of our military campaigns in the Middle East, the mission quickly became bogged down in a nation building campaign. The people of Afghanistan have long been wary of foreign influence. Empire after empire has attempted to conquer this nation, only to suffer humiliating defeats. For any chance at sustained success, the United States must win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. This skateboard program is a perfect tool in accomplishing that objective. The parks bring all types of youths together in the spirit of fun. They are a unifying factor amongst the youth in Afghanistan.