Television and the Afghan Culture Wars: Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists (The Geopolitics of Information) (Hardcover)

Television and the Afghan Culture Wars: Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists (The Geopolitics of Information) By Wazhmah Osman  Cover Image

Television and the Afghan Culture Wars: Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists (The Geopolitics of Information) (Hardcover)


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Portrayed in Western discourse as tribal and traditional, Afghans have in fact intensely debated women's rights, democracy, modernity, and Islam as part of their nation building in the post-9/11 era. Wazhmah Osman places television at the heart of these public and politically charged clashes while revealing how the medium also provides war-weary Afghans with a semblance of open discussion and healing. After four decades of gender and sectarian violence, she argues, the internationally funded media sector has the potential to bring about justice, national integration, and peace.

Fieldwork from across Afghanistan allowed Osman to record the voices of many Afghan media producers and people. Afghans offer their own seldom-heard views on the country's cultural progress and belief systems, their understandings of themselves, and the role of international interventions. Osman analyzes the impact of transnational media and foreign funding while keeping the focus on local cultural contestations, productions, and social movements. As a result, she redirects the global dialogue about Afghanistan to Afghans and challenges top-down narratives of humanitarian development.

Wazhmah Osman is a filmmaker and assistant professor in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. She is the codirector of the critically acclaimed documentary Postcards from Tora Bora and the coauthor of Afghanistan: A Very Short Introduction.

Product Details ISBN: 9780252043550
ISBN-10: 0252043553
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication Date: December 14th, 2020
Pages: 288
Language: English
Series: The Geopolitics of Information
Winner of the ICA ACJS Outstanding Book Award

"A compelling analysis . . . Osman does an excellent job of articulating the histories and traces of what she calls both foreign and indigenous forms of modernisation, and helpfully details the narratives of successive foreign incursions and their backlashes. She convincingly shows that any perspective which poses contemporary American/global ideas of modernity as being in direct contrast with deep-seated and supposedly static forms of tribal patriarchy and tradition is of little help in understanding the contemporary situation." --Critical Studies in Television

"In Television and the Afghan Culture Wars, Wazhmah Osman takes readers on a powerful tour of Afghan media, politics, and society. . . . A rich analysis of the local-global nexus. . . . Fiercely critical of the imperial gaze." --Television and New Media

"Television and the Afghan Culture Wars poignantly critiques discourses of failure and immutability, bringing to the foreground the dynamism and talents of an Afghan population that is well-integrated with global flows of consumption and entertainment. Nuanced and deeply researched." --Iranian Studies

"An excellent introductory text on contemporary Afghanistan through a non-western perspective that centers the everyday life, agency, and desires of ordinary Afghans." --International Journal of Middle East Studies

"Osman's analysis of the televisual medium in Afghanistan is valuable and serves as a timely marker of the end of an era and the beginning of another." --Media, Culture, and Society

"Osman's book is a lucid read about complicated dynamics." --Interventions

"An insider look into Afghanistan's social norms and cultural narratives." --SouthAsia

"Television and the Afghan Culture Wars is an insightful, powerful book. Weaving together nuanced ethnography, complex media theory, and even a touch of personal memoir, Osman provides a compelling perspective on the world of Afghan television. Nuanced and deeply researched, the book is an important contribution to a number of fields, including war and conflict studies, media globalization, and development communication."--Matt Sienkiewicz, author of The Other Air Force: U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media since 9/11

"This is the first richly observed ethnographic account of the landscape of media in post-US invasion Afghanistan. Osman’s self-reflexive voice in telling the story of the dynamic media field in Afghanistan is in and of itself of import. The limited scholarship that exists on media and democracy under occupation in the Global South tends to reproduce paternalistic narratives of development. In contrast, this critical work foregrounds the geopolitical context that leads to a television 'boom,' highlighting the important role of women and ethnic minority communities in Afghani media production and consumption. Television and Afghan Culture Wars is a must read for scholars and students of global media and American empire."--Paula Chakravartty, coeditor of Race, Empire and the Crisis of the Subprime