Environmental Humanities

Stories of Kabul 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 focusing on trees located in Afghanistan. Through ethnographic methods, storytelling, creative artistic practice, and geo-location and data visualization we are highlighting 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 them.

We have developed an evolving and growing online exhibition entitled, Arboreal Stories, where artistic practice is used bring a voice to the trees of Afghanistan, which have stood and withstood, conflict, war, and large cultural changes. Through the ongoing development of this website we aim to shift ours and others thinking about the knowledge trees possess and the importance of their role in a community. We have used the source ethnographic audio and video interviews as the basis for the development of creative responses including 3D animation, weaving, and digital storytelling.

This project is being led by Dr Diana Chester, a Research Lead at the Sydney Environment Institute in collaboration with Environmentalist and artist Ann Jyothis Raj.

Website: https://afghanistan.arborealstory.art/