Rhetorics and Politics in Afghan Traditional Storytelling

Rhetorics and Politics in Afghan Traditional Storytelling

Rhetorics and Politics in Afghan Traditional Storytelling

Rhetorics and Politics in Afghan Traditional Storytelling

Excerpt

This study has been more than eight years in the making, retarded by the difficulties of finding advisors familiar with Herati Persian and continuing my study of that language, after my involuntary separation from the community that inspired my work. In 1980, when this project was conceived, and the full import of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was making itself clear, it became extremely painful just to listen to the tapes from which the voices of friends and teachers, their whereabouts and condition now unknown to me, issued forth in humor, safety, wisdom, and calm. I do not now know the whereabouts of the Ākhond and Khalīfah Karīm, the two master storytellers whose words are presented here. Both were elders in 1975. The area of Herat province where they lived was an early center of local resistance to the Marxist government. I now thank them, wherever they may be, for the artistry and humor they brought to a performance event which was probably a nuisance to themselves but of fundamental-- ultimately transformative--educative, and aesthetic value to me.

This study focuses on one series of stories, performed in sequence over an evening and part of the next morning in January of 1975, by two storytellers, friends of one another. They brought to the performance different educational and professional backgrounds, personal histories, and relationships to the sponsor of the event, who was the central government official responsible for administration of the district in which they had grown up and raised their families and then resided. The traces of these different backgrounds and relationships, as well as the play of words, themes, and ideas detectable in the storytellers' choice and sequential arrangement of the stories, are explored in my commentary on their stories. Their performance was a product of their traditionally acquired verbal artistry and expectations for storytelling. It was also conditioned by the anomalous presence of a stranger, an unveiled foreign woman, with a modest array of recording and photographic equipment. Their traditional rhetorical resources and strategies were also drawn upon to handle a relatively new ideological juxtaposition: that between the two performers, both devout Muslims, and their host, a Marxist and avowed atheist.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.