Environmental Humanities

Stories of Kabul Through Its Trees

Creatively mapping the stories of Kabul, Afghanistan through its trees.

The objective of this project is to recreate the way we think about the narratives of trees, and how they can serve as important communicators of culture and markers of time passed. In this particular case, we are focussing on trees located in Kabul, Afghanistan, we are likely to identify a dozen specific trees. Through ethnographic methods, storytelling, creative artistic practice, and geo-location and data visualization we will highlight the stories, patterns, and history of these trees in Kabul, and the stories the people of Kabul tell about these trees.

The narrative we too often hear about trees is limited to the catastrophic things that are happening to them namely logging and burning or that they serve to sequester carbon. Just as trees themselves develop networks of communication and support for their fellow trees, this project will lean into this capacity trees have to tell the interconnected stories of those people in the communities that have surrounded the trees.

The intention of this project is to create an exhibition, physical and possibly online, that uses artistic practice to bring a voice to the trees of Kabul, which have stood and withstood, conflict, war, and large cultural changes. This project intends to shift our thinking about the knowledge trees possess and the importance of their role in a community, as well as provide a creative response to the ethnographic research and GIS data that we collect.

This project is being led by Dr Diana Chester, a Research Lead at the Sydney Environment Institute.