It seems like in every generation in American history, we find ourselves in armed conflict in some place half-way across the world. We always come away knowing so little about the country we’re in. While we become more global in terms of the impact we have on each other, America somehow manages to stay so insular. If global warming and the shape of the economy has taught us anything, it should be that we are all deeply interconnected on this planet and that it pays to know your neighbor. Take Afghanistan for example. Though we have been mired in a war there for 13 years, how many of us have some real knowledge of that country and culture that goes beyond words like “Taliban,” or “Muslim extremists”? Recently American writer/photographer Peggy Kelsey came to town to talk about the women in today’s Afghanistan and the stories they tell. Her book entitled, Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women, sheds much needed light on a culture and a people we know little about. The International Examiner’s Atia Musazay interviewed Kelsey and also took the time to cover a couple other books on the same subject. Do Muslim Women Need Saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod looks at some of the misconceptions we may have about Islam and how it affects women. Songs of Love and War, compiled by the late poet Sayd Bahodine Majrouh, translates the rich oral tradition of song. Hopefully, this feature will inform our readers about the complexity of issues that surround the women of Afghanistan in today’s world.
—Alan Chong Lau, IE Arts Editor