About the class: This class will survey the way in which we analyze but also talk about and represent the past decades of conflict in Afghanistan. Anthropology faculty member Noah Coburn will guide students through a typical Bennington approach by looking at both how Afghanistan is understood through academic analysis and how ethnographic approaches, literature, film, art, and policy all come together to shape our understanding of this complex political landscape. Topics will include the insurgency, the challenges of development, the role of women and youth in Afghanistan's future, and elections. Student materials will draw from policy pieces, Khalid Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed, Sebastian Junger's Restrepo, as well as art by both Afghan and international artists. The course concludes by asking how these pieces might come together to help us better understand the legacy of conflict in Afghanistan.
Weekly readings, videos, online discussions, and podcast lectures will allow participants to meet and interact with one another virtually, share ideas, and explore using multiple media.
The course will culminate in an optional dinner, lecture, and cultural activity in New York City.
About Noah Coburn: A faculty member at Bennington College since fall 2012, Coburn is a socio-cultural anthropologist who focuses on local politics, violence, and intervention in Afghanistan and Central Asia. His book Bazaar Politics: Pottery and Power in an Afghan Market Town (2011) was the first full-length ethnographic study from Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion. More recently, his book Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan (2014) focused on the role of elections in reshaping the Afghan political landscape and, in 2014, he served as an observer in and around Kabul for the think tank Chatham House during the Afghan presidential and provincial council elections.
Course details: Portraying Conflict will run for seven weeks beginning the week of September 8 and ending the week of October 20, 2014. In late October, all participants will be invited to an end-of-course dinner and lecture in New York City with Coburn. More information to come.
Materials: There may be several book purchases and film rentals to supplement the course.
Cost: $90.00; additional course materials, travel, and accommodations to the optional New York City gathering are not included.