Jonathan Rider travelled to Nuristan, Afghanistan with a home-made bow to take part in an archery tournament. Nuristan province in Afghanistan is one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of the country. For the last 40 years, it has been more or less ‘off limits’ due to intense conflict and insecurity. Nuristan was the last part of Afghanistan to be (very forcibly) converted to Islam in 1896, at which point it was known as Kafiristan – the land of the unbelievers. Made famous in the West by Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, it retains a rich and unique cultural identity and remains comparatively isolated from the rest of Afghanistan. One of the most intriguing aspects of this rich heritage is archery, which is still practised today. In his talk, Jonathan will share a lively account of travelling and working in Nuristan under Taliban control, providing a more nuanced account of the country than many news and media outlets allow.
Jonathan Rider is a Director and Co-Founder of Aleph Strategies, a research firm focussing on cultural heritage in conflict-affected countries. With a background in archaeology, Jonathan has worked with a variety of organisations in the past including UNESCO and the Aga Khan Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of Scientific Exploration Society. He also sits on the ICOMOS UK Committee for Cultural Tourism. An aspiring bowyer, Jonathan has been building and shooting traditional English longbows since he could walk. Travelling to Nuristan to learn about local archery was the realisation of 20 years of daydreaming.