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Under A Red Veil: Staging Afghan Emancipation in Moscow

In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
Author: Timothy Nunan
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Abstract

This article explores the Soviet mission to emancipate Afghan women during the Soviet war in Afghanistan through a detailed reading of the stenogram of a 1982 seminar in Moscow designed as an exchange of ideas and experiences between leading members of the Committee for Soviet Women and the Democratic Organization of Women of Afghanistan. Approaching this episode as a moment in the quest to find new forms of modernity – Communist, Islamic, or Western – in Afghanistan, the article shows how Soviet women's representatives repeatedly played up the important of the hujum in 1930s Soviet Central Asia as a model program for Afghan and, to some extent, all Third World societies. At the same time, however, the Afghan women at the conference, while avid Communists, articulated their own vision of women's emancipation for Afghanistan which did not reject the veil, a vision at odds with that articulated by their Soviet 'teachers.'

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