From Peshawar to Kabul: Preserving Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage during Wartime

Laila Hussein Moustafa

Abstract

This article profiles the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University (ACKU) as an example of an organization that has successfully engaged in preserving a nation’s cultural heritage during a time of war. The ACKU has emerged from, and been engaged in, efforts to preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage from the time of the Soviet occupation until today. Central to this story is the work of an American scholar, Nancy Hatch Dupree, who began to collect and preserve materials while she was in an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1989. Those materials became the foundation for what is now the largest library and research center in Afghanistan. The story of the ACKU sheds light on how librarians, scholars, governments, and nongovernmental organizations can act in collaboration to preserve and protect cultural heritage in time of conflict.

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