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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Monika Bulaj

Behind the Great Game

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What lies behind the conflicts and power struggles vying for control of the oil resources of Western and Central Asia? The aim of this work – The Central and Western Asia Project - is to give voice to those who are the unwilling protagonists (and often victims) of that which Ahmed Rashid terms The New Great Game, in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Central Asian republics.
In Afghanistan, a country that was to be saved from itself, despite the millions of dollars in aid and the presence of military personnel, over half of the population depends on food aid for their very survival and the condition of women is still among the worst in the world. Pakistan, increasingly torn apart by civil strife, is the victim of American political myopia that has bred a hatred for the West and has rendered impossible any serious opposition to the extremists, undermining the very founding values of the Pakistani state: democracy, a secular educational system, a functioning civil society.
In the work that I did in this Region (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran) I’ve tried to go beyond the facile geopolitical characterizations of this region and its inhabitants and bring to the light its invisible spaces: spaces that resist the political monochromes, populist rhetoric and imported understandings of radical Islam. There is another, hidden world here, ignored by the media: that of the Sufi, despised by the Taliban; that of Islamised shamanisms  and pre-Islamic traditions; that of the various nomadic tribes and other religious minorities, such as the animists, whose sacred places have long been seen as a powerful threat to the dominance of Taliban Wahabite ideology.
I’m trying to bring to the fore also the condition of women: their struggles with depression and suicide, with the impositions of morality, their aspirations, their sexuality.

 

Bio

Free-lance photographer and writer, for GEO, East, National Geographic (Italy), La Repubblica, periodicals by  Gruppo Espresso and Rcs, Courrier International, Gazeta Wyborcza. Born in 1966 in Warsaw, she has completed five-years studies in the Polish Philology on the Warsaw University. She has three sons and worked until 2002 as an actress and dancer. She has published books:  ‘Libya felix’, Mondadori; ‘Figli di No?’ Frassinelli 2006 (minorities and faiths in Azerbaigian); ‘Rebecca e la pioggia’, Frassinelli 2006 (the nomadic tribe of the Dinka of South Sudan); ‘Gerusalemme perduta’ with Paolo Rumiz, Frasinelli 2005 (about the Eastern Christians); ‘Genti di Dio, viaggio nell’Altra Europa’, Frasinelli 2008 (researches in East Europe and Israel), Bozy ludzie, Bosz Editions 2011. More than 50 personal exibitions. Awards: Grant in Visual Arts 2005 from EAJC, Bruce Chatwin Award 2009 ‘Occchio Assoluto’, The Aftermath Project Grant 2010. Her book ‘Genti di Dio’ has just been published in a new and larger edition.

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Monika Bulaj

Central Asia Project

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