Accepted paper:

Weaving the threat of memory: war rugs and the memorialisation of war in Afghanistan


Sophia Milosevic Bijleveld (Independant)

Paper short abstract:

This study seeks to understand the articulation of war rugs as a production of memory in Afghanistan. This traditional craft has been re-interpreted by women, to include powerful imagery of war, thus conveying the interpretation of the past by a subaltern group, marginalised in the memory creation process.

Paper long abstract:

In Afghanistan, the contestation of power by both local and international actors have led to a multiplication of representational practices, and thus the fragmentation of the memory landscape. Collective memory is articulated, through the presentation of a narrative of the past through a number of possible medium, such as textbooks, museums, monuments, or commemorations (Gillis, 1994, Winter, Siva, 2000). The actors present in the memory landscape are not solely the state, or elite, but increasingly the civil society and what could be termed as subaltern actors, such as women. The case of the creation of a memory narrative by women is a case in point. One of such example is the making of the war rugs, which participate in the articulation of memory. These traditional afghan rugs made by non-literate women belonging mainly to the Baluchi group and often nomads have substituted war imagery to the traditional Islamic objects. They are a unique way of using the craft of carpet making reinterpreted with imagery of war and thus conveying memories of daily life, reaching an Afghan and international audience. This study seeks to understand the articulation of war rugs as a production of memory in Afghanistan, and underlying the role of marginalised groups in the process of memory creation and their re-interpretation of history.

panel P13
Arts of memory: skilful practices of living history