Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall, 'Black Britain: A Photographic History' and Antonio Giustozzi, 'Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan'

IssueMarch 2008
Review by Gabriel Carlyle

Though a disproportionately white affair, the peace movement is a close relative of the anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-apartheid struggles that form a key strand in this wonderful selection from the Getty Images photo archive. As Paul Gilroy notes in the thought-provoking essay, while this is “not a book for black people only”, the history it marks out is, even now, one which “those who are complacent, powerful and indifferent to the suffering of Britain's minorities find easy to overlook.”

Most media coverage of the current insurgency in Afghanistan presents its protagonists as Hollywood villains, crazed fundamentalists straight from central casting. The reality, as Antonio Giustozzi - an academic at the LSE's Crisis States Research Centre who has spent more than a decade visiting, researching and writing on Afghanistan - explains, is more complicated.

Crucially, he notes, “[f]or all their image as an extremist movement, there are some indications that the Taliban might have always been aiming for a negotiated settlement,” and “[t]he option of ending the war through negotiations still existed in 2007.”

Though mercifully jargon-free, Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop is still heavy-going in places - especially when dealing with Afghanistan's labyrinthine local politics. Nonetheless, it deserves to be widely read within the anti-war movement.

Topics: Afghanistan, Race
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