Two American graduate students, both Boston University anthropologists, have recently begun working in Afghanistan. Ted Callahan serves as a consultant with the Central Asian Institute in the remote Pamirs of northeastern Badakhshan province. His main interests concern a remnant population of Kirghiz pastoralists, perhaps the most geographically isolated and culturally traditional group of Turkic people anywhere. While staying at the AIAS Center in Kabul this past June, Callahan made contact with a Pamir Kirghiz delegation that had come to meet President Karzai. AIAS hosted a restaurant dinner for Callahan, the Kirghiz, and Badakhshan government officials.
Noah Coburn is interested in the history and market economy of Istalef, a pottery making village the Shomali plain north of Kabul. Like Callahan, he began his Afghan tenure as a resident of the AIAS Center. Now a representative of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, led by author and former British diplomat Rory Stewart, Coburn will both participate in and observe the revitalization of a local industry destroyed by the Taliban. While awaiting accommodations in Istalef, Coburn and his wife currently live in a reconstructed 19th century fortress overlooking Kabul.