Described as the “Grandmother of Afghanistan,” Nancy Hatch Dupree dedicated decades of her life to preserving the history and culture of Afghanistan. Her death, on September 10, has sparked reflection on the impactful work that Dupree and her husband engaged in over their decades spent in Afghanistan.
Over the course of her life, Dupree published five books focused on the history and culture of Afghanistan. Among these, Afghanistan Over a Cup of Tea, a collection of essays discussing topics such as women’s rights, healthcare, education, the Taliban, and Afghan culture. Within this book, she outlines her own unique experiences in Afghanistan. This book, and Dupree’s other literary contributions, are considered “must reads” for those interested in learning about Afghanistan.
Dupree was involved in writing countless articles and informational guides based on her travels and experiences. In addition to this, she regularly contributed to a number of publications including Sweden’s Afghanistan Nytt. Dupree was considered by many to be one of the leading experts on Afghan culture and history. When asked about her passion for preserving Afghan heritage, Dupree has been quoted saying that “A nation stays alive if its culture stays alive.”
In addition to her contributions to the literature on Afghanistan, Dupree and her husband established the Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation. This foundation is dedicated to the continued preservation of the historical records and documentation of Afghanistan. During the years of Taliban rule, Dupree continued her work to ensure that the historical artifacts of Afghanistan were protected. She helped to amass a large collection of photographs that can now be viewed on the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU) website. Dupree also served as Director and Executive Coordinator at ACKU beginning in 2006.
Dupree first travelled to Kabul, Afghanistan in 1962. Since this time, she was committed to her goal of preserving Afghan culture and artifacts. Even during her time outside of Afghanistan, she did not waver in her determination to protect Afghan history. Her death leaves many Afghans mourning her loss and celebrating her countless contributions to Afghanistan and the preservation of Afghan history.
Media Sources: The National 9/10/17, Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation, The New York Times 9/10/17, U.S. News 9/10/17, Aljazeera 9/10/17