“The Grandmother of Kabul” pays a special visit to the NATO Archives

  • 09 Dec. 2015 -
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  • Last updated 18-Sep-2017 10:36

The 2015 Archives Committee meeting held at NATO HQ in Brussels provided an appropriate setting to welcome an extraordinary guest. International archivist and activist Nancy Hatch Dupree, affectionately known as the “Grandmother of Kabul”, was invited by the NATO Archives for two special speaking engagements to share her experiences about the establishment of the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU). Home to Afghanistan’s most comprehensive collection of historical documents and artefacts, the ACKU represents the culmination of Nancy Dupree’s archival work since she first arrived in the country in 1962.

At her first speaking engagement Nancy Dupree delivered an inspiring keynote address to the members of the Archives Committee, outlining the challenges, the pitfalls and the victories that she faced (and continues to face) in her singular dedication to preserve Afghanistan’s documentary and cultural heritage. As a token of immense gratitude and respect for her work, the NATO Archives presented Nancy Dupree with a hardcover bound set of the official declarations of the enduring cooperation and partnership between NATO and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. These documents will be incorporated in the archives at the ACKU where they will be accessible to all students interested in learning about this important relationship in their country’s recent history.     

Nancy Dupree then participated on a special panel that discussed the importance of History and cultural heritage in the context of conflict resolution in Afghanistan. Chaired by Ambassador Marriët Schuurman, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, distinguished guests from across NATO’s political, military and operational spectrums joined Nancy Dupree in a wide-ranging conversation about their experiences with the past, present and future of Afghanistan. Despite being flanked by a roster of high-level speakers that included Lee Litzenberger (Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO), Major-General Joseph Guastella Jr. (Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations and Intelligence at SHAPE), and Nick Williams (the former NATO Deputy Senior Civilian Representative in Kabul), Nancy Dupree spoke with refreshing candour about her adopted home country and the Alliance’s evolving commitment of support to it. The idea of speaking frankly and openly, whether in a forum context or in the public spaces of Afghanistan, became the key takeaway of the panel discussion as Nancy Dupree concluded with the hope that the youth of Afghanistan, armed with a strong historical and cultural sense of identity, would be able to resolve their problems in the future through dialogue rather than through force.

Video coverage of this special event is available on the NATO Youtube Channel here, presented as a playlist in eight individual parts. The videos are also accessible through this page via the Video section in the right column.