Our issue opens with a concern that will run through my editorship of Public Culture: violence. (We will devote a special issue to the topic in 2017.) Madiha Tahir brings us to Barmal, a district in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province bordering Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. While American journalists often write about such places from “green zones,” hundreds of miles away, or more likely from different countries and even different continents altogether, Tahir takes us up close to where bodies, earth, and communities are torn apart by American violence. How do we know such places? How are we to make sense of the wounds we inflict? This beautifully rendered essay is nearly impossible to read and as such represents the best of what Public Culture can do: make that which we thought we knew more unknown, yet better understood.

Josef Sorett joins Tahir in our Forum section, reflecting on literature, politics,...

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