Da Shahidano Chawk: Martyrs' Square in Kandahar City, Afghanistan
Donovan, William E.
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The Shahidano Chawk is a monument in the center of Kandahar City, Afghanistan. It was constructed after World War II, in the period between 1946 and 1948. This thesis explores the various meanings the monument has embodied since its creation. It was originally an ethno-nationalist monument which used two highly charged events, the 1843 massacre at the Herat gate, and the 1880 battle of Maiwand, as motivational motifs to help cement the Pashtun people at a time of crisis. The crisis was the formation of Pakistan, and the transition of the Durand Line from a line demarcating a sphere of influence into a hard international boundary. Later, the martyr motif created a powerful connection with the Afghan and Arab Mujahedeen who fought together against the Soviet invasion from 1979 to 1989. The September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States led to me being deployed to Kandahar where my military unit used an image of the monument on a medal known as a battalion coin. The Shahidano Chawk does not have a fixed meaning, but rather it has been appropriated as an important public expression of values by many groups who attempted to control narratives about their identity and the region by claiming this monument in the bustling center of Kandahar City.