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Afghanistan Dispossessed (ePub)

Women, Culture and the Taliban

Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Afghanistan War P&S History > Social History Women of History

By Dr Razia Sultanova
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 15.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781399060240
Published: 16th January 2023


£4.99 Print price £20.00

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Author Interview!

Music and Women in Afghanistan and Central Asia: An Interview with Razia Sultanova

 - with Voices on Central Asia. Read the interview here.

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How does normal social, cultural, religious life survive in constant turmoil? How can the people flourish? These basic questions are examined and answered by Razia Sultanova's academic analysis and deep fieldwork, with extensive eye-witness and personal contacts and conversations with a wide variety of Afghan men and women. She looks at basic questions of gender, identity, nation, tradition, history, popular culture and especially the role of music - classical, popular, modern and contemporary - as a vital element for survival. And all is over-shadowed by the Taliban with on-going threat of terror and repression especially for women and girls. Here is a classical story of a people's struggle for everyday normality and preservation of cherished traditions in a war-torn society.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazing presentation of the world that is otherwise unknown to the readers.
I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the real, own-voices representation of the hidden world.


Interesting to read. Hard to imagine this life. Very well written and flows well. Different way of life to what women experience here in the western world

NetGalley, Lisa Houston

Uzbek musicologist and cultural anthropologist Razia Sultanova said that before the Taliban, there were Uzbek songs sung on marriages by mothers and grandmothers and little girls which meant there was knowledge transmission from one generation to another.

She termed it very important for the Afghan culture to have this process going but they were not allowed to do it now. “Music transcends language and culture and time and just listening to these songs and performances show the reach of culture of Afghanistan. We can ask the question what’s future of this heritage. Will it survive or not under the very difficult and draconian rule of the current government.”

read the full article here.

DAWN magazine

Brought up in Uzbekistan, Sultanova has known the music of Central Asia all her life. She herself is an excellent singer and doutar player. During the last twenty years she has made many long research trips to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Few, if any, writers are endowed with such a sensitive understanding of this world.
5/5 stars

Amazon reviewer

In her most recent book, Dr. Razia Sultanova discusses the roles and types of music in Afghanistan following the second rise of the Taliban in 2021. Sultanova details a variety of types of music from northern Afghanistan gathered from her research and trips. She also described the works, lives, and songs of famous Afghani female singers, highlighting the role of women in the creation of art and culture in Afghanistan against the desires of Taliban-2. Each chapter has a specific focus, from popular culture in Afghanistan to Northern Afghan musical instruments, and Sultanova brings her expertise into her discussion of Afghan women’s role in the creation of art and culture. Each chapter, though having a distinct focus, ties into Sultanova’s overarching topic about the intrinsic value of women to national art and culture. Sultanova even interviews Afghan singer Elaha Soroor about the challenges of being such a prominent public figure in a culture where women are discouraged from being in the public eye. Sultanova’s division of the topic into manageable chapters, each with a specific focus, allows the reader to explore and understand multiple facets of music and gender in Afghanistan.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Afghanistan Dispossessed is a serious book about Afghanistan post the war. Dr. Raza Sultanova painstakingly researched and addressed what survived of Afghan culture - primarily music.
Dr. Sultanova includes personal information including what prompted this story. There was very little information about the Soviet invasion when she lived in Russia and she was surprised how mislead she was by the news. As a musicologist, she let her own training lead her in her research. This is a very interesting and sobering look at a land which is still under fire from the Taliban.

NetGalley, Andrea Dinan

About Dr Razia Sultanova

Dr Razia Sultanova is a musicologist and social scientist with an international reputation. She graduated from the Uzbek State Conservatory and her PhD is from Moscow State Conservatory. She was a Research Fellow at Goldsmith's College and the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. She is Visiting Professor at Charles University, Prague, Chair of ICTM SG on Global Music, Editor-in-Chief of Encyclopaedia of the Turkic-Speaking World, Research Fellow, Sarajevo University, Research Fellow, University College, Cork, and Research Fellow, Cambridge Muslim College. She authored major studies including From Shamanism to Sufism: Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia; On the Ruins of Empire: Central Asia migrant's music in 21st century Russian metropolises; Why Women Sing: Female performance in traditional societies; The non-Russian sound of post-Soviet Moscow.

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