We are proud to announce that NPR's Throughline has received a Peabody Award for its three-part series, Afghanistan: The Center of the World.
The series aired in 2021, twenty years after 9/11, and just weeks after US troops withdrew from Afghanistan, and the Taliban took control of the country. Many other outlets focused coverage on this pivotal moment from a U.S. perspective. Throughline took a different approach, shifting the narrative to center Afghanistan and its people in this award-winning series.
Too often, the story of Afghanistan is told from the perspective of outsiders who tried to invade it – and always failed – earning it the nickname "Graveyard of Empires." In Part I, we journey back in time, long before the U.S. was even a nation, to understand the countless civilizations that intersected in Afghanistan – weaving together languages, cultures, and visions for what Afghanistan was and could be. Through poetry, music, and radio broadcasts, we hear the rich history of Afghanistan from the voices of Afghans themselves.
Part II examines the origins of the Taliban. In this episode, we move beyond the tropes to understand what traumatic historical and political forces led to the Taliban's formation and rise. Through poetry from Taliban fighters and Afghan women who had to live under their harsh rule, we complicate the story of a group who has been caricatured in the West. The series concludes with Drone Wars, a look at the evolution of the U.S. military's infamous weapon: the predator drone. The drone was supposed to be a symbol of the era of precision warfare – a way to wage wars with fewer casualties on both sides. But over the last two decades, Afghans have learned to live in fear of drone attacks, a constant threat lurking in the skies above. In this episode, we explore the ways Americans have become disconnected – emotionally and physically – from the human costs of war in Afghanistan.
Who gets to frame the past? Whose stories matter? The series Afghanistan: The Center of The World, exemplifies how Throughline challenges audiences to see the world from new perspectives, to examine not just what happened in the past, but why, connecting us as people persevering in an ever more complicated, chaotic world, human beings stuck in the now, between the past and future.
Listen to the Peabody award-winning episodes here: