Fariba Nawa will serve as tour guide to two Assembly Series programs on Afghanistan

Talk, panel discussion offer first-person accounts and research on life in Afghanistan today — and what lies ahead 

For many years, Fariba Nawa has been an independent journalistic voice on issues regarding the Middle East and South Asia.

Born in Herat, Afghanistan, she fled the country with her family during the Soviet invasion and settled in California. But in 2002, when the U.S.-led coalition took up the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Nawa returned to bear witness. She stayed for several years, not only reporting from the frontlines but also gathering material for her revealing 2011 book, Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey through Afghanistan.

Those experiences will inform two Washington University in St. Louis-sponsored events: Nawa’s Assembly Series talk, “Afghanistan, Heroin and Women,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, in Umrath Lounge; and a panel discussion, “Aftershocks of the Afghanistan War: What’s Next for Those Who Left and for Those Left Behind,” at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in the Mallinckrodt Center’s Multipurpose Room. Both are free and open to the public.

Opium Nation, part investigative reporting and part memoir, is a searing look into the damage that Afghanistan’s $65 billion-a-year opiate industry has wrought. Nawa’s work also has appeared in a variety of news media, including Foreign Affairs, The Daily Beast, Newsday, The Christian Science Monitor, NPR and CorpWatch. She also was a contributor to the anthology Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands.

Panel discussion

For the October 2013 edition of Washington magazine, Nawa interviewed several WUSTL faculty and alumni whose work or research involves Afghanistan in some way; four of them will participate in the Oct. 17 panel discussion.

Panelists are Robert Canfield, PhD; Fahim Masoud (AB ’13); Rumi Kato Price, PhD, MPE ’90; and Jean-Francois Trani, PhD.

Canfield is a sociocultural anthropologist and professor emeritus in WUSTL’s Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences, who in the 1960s spent several years living among Afghans and conducting field research. During his decades-long teaching career at Washington University, he has influenced a generation of students and contributed to a greater understanding of the geopolitical importance of the region as well as the need to understand its complex social history and dynamics.

• Masoud is among the students greatly influenced by Canfield. Prior to immigrating to the U.S. in 2008, he served for 18 months as a linguist and cultural adviser to the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He enrolled at WUSTL in 2010 and recieved a Merle Kling Honors Fellowship.

Masoud recently returned from his native country and is collaborating with Canfield on a study of the impact of the 2014 American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Next January, he intends to join U.S. Army intelligence and serve in that capacity before entering gradate school.

Price is a professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and administers the psychiatric and behavioral sciences concentration for the master of population health program. Her latest work has focused on trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicide rates in the most recent generation of U.S. military service members and their families.

Trani is an assistant professor in the Brown School. His research concentrates on assessing and designing policies to meet the needs of the most vulnerable living in conflict-affected regions. He just completed a study in Afghanistan this summer.

For information on these and other Assembly Series programs, visit assemblyseries.wustl.edu or call (314) 935-4620.