Embroidering Within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future

by Rangina Hamidi & Mary Littrell; 
Photos by Paula Lerner;
October 2017

Winner of the 2017 Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Silver Award.


ISBN: 978-0-9984523-0-2
Price: $34.95, trade paperback; also available in eBook editions
172 pages: 235 color photographs, map, references, index
Available at ClothRoads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Search Press, and your
favorite bookshop


From the harsh and hidden lives of women in Afghanistan emerges a story of creativity, courage, and reclaiming a future through ancient cultural traditions. Fifteen years ago, Rangina Hamidi made the decision to dedicate her life to helping rebuild her native Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Taliban had been driven out by American forces following 9/11, but Kandahar was a shambles. Tens of thousands of women, widowed by years of conflict, struggled to support themselves and their families. Rangina started an entrepreneurial enterprise—Kandahar Treasure—using the exquisite traditional khamak embroidery of Kandahar to help women work within their cultural boundaries, to earn their living, and to find a degree of self-determination.

Embroidering Within Boundaries chronicles the development of this remarkable and inspiring business run solely by Afghan women. Throughout the narrative, intimate and moving profiles of Kandahar Treasure artisans illustrate how they have gained confidence, education, and the will to lead their families into a more stable and prosperous future.

AUTHORS
Rangina Hamidi Rangina Hamidi emigrated with her family from Soviet-controlled Afghanistan to the United States as a young girl. As an adult, she has chosen to work in empowering women in her home country. As founder and president of Kandahar Treasure, Rangina Hamidi is one of the leading voices for Afghan women. She has served as the manager of the women’s Income Generation Project for Afghans for Civil Society and has been selected for prominent professional and academic training programs, including Project Artemis of Thunderbird University and the business development organization BPeace. Rangina has been invited to the global artisans showcase at the 2016 & 2017  TEDWomen conference. She serves as a council member for US-Afghan Women’s Council.

Mary Littrell, Ph.D., is Professor and Department Head Emerita of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. For the past 25 years, Mary’s research has focused on how textile artisan enterprises achieve sustainability in the global market. She has hosted study tours for students, researchers, artists, and collectors to India, Guatemala, and Peru. She has lived and worked in Malaysia, and has conducted field research in Ghana, India, and Central Asia. She served on the Textile Society of America Board of Directors. Mary resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is a Research Associate at the Museum of International Folk Art and serves as Chair of the Artist Selection Committee for the International Folk Art Market, Santa Fe.

PHOTOGRAPHER
The late Paula Lerner  was an award-winning freelance photographer and photojournalist whose remarkable career spanned nearly three decades. Her work appeared in a variety of publications including Smithsonian and Newseek. She won an Emmy award for her work on Behind the Veil, a  multi-media feature about the lives of women in Afghanistan. Paula made five photography trips to Afghanistan, working closely with her friend Rangina Hamidi. Paula’s remarkable images throughout the book show Afghan women’s profound struggle, strength, and beauty.

 


 


Praise for Embroidering Within Boundaries

“Rangina Hamidi has enabled the women of war-torn Kandahar to bring their exquisite embroidery to the world. Now in this beautiful book, she takes us on a journey into her own life and the lives of the talented and courageous Afghan women she serves through Kandahar Treasure. This is an extraordinary story of resilient and remarkable people—a story that informs and inspires.”
Melanne Verveer, former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and Director of Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security

“Hamidi and Littrell’s portraits of Kandahari Afghan women and their distinctive embroidery masterfully combine life, art, culture and history. The khamak stitchery women embroider into the grid pattern of the warp and weft of delicate fabric serves as metaphor for the ways women negotiate their lives in the Kandahar Treasure community. These rich and complex accounts of actual women underscore the intricacy of life in Afghanistan. This honest, close up view of the daily workings of a women-led Afghan business shows the intersection of the intimate with the geopolitical.”
Dr. Rachel Lehr, Research Associate, University of Colorado and author of The Carpetbaggers of Kabul and Other American-Afghan Entanglements

“I’ve watched Rangina Hamidi change hundreds of women’s lives with nothing more than embroidery thread and stubborn persistence. Confronting a problem that seemed insurmountable, she has harnessed the old-world decorative skills of khamak with the new-world power of social business to bring hope and respect to the women of Kandahar. I’m thankful that this story is being told. We should all be inspired by what Rangina has accomplished. The world is better because of her resolve.”
Kellie Kreiser, Executive Director, Thunderbird School of Global Management

“The courage and creativity of Rangina Hamidi and the women of Kandahar Treasure shine from the pages of this luminous book. This exploration of the hidden worlds of Afghan women tells us as much about the country as all the news reports about bomb blasts and kidnappings put together. Clear-eyed about the heartbreaking hardships that these women face, Embroidering Within Boundaries is nonetheless a celebration of their lives and shared agency.”
Matthieu Aikins, journalist and Nation Institute fellow

“This magnificent book allows us to peer behind the veil to behold the world of beauty, pride, and meaning of ancient Afghan embroidery. Through stories of hope and challenge, we are able to walk with these remarkable Afghan women as they rebuild their lives. A triumph!”
Peggy Clark, Director, Alliance for Artisan Enterprise

 

 

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