Democracy-Building in Afghanistan
Grade Level: High School – Community College
Includes curriculum unit + DVD ("Hell of A Nation")
Centered on the documentary film Hell of a Nation, this curriculum unit introduces students to the complex process of building democracy in Afghanistan. Hell of a Nation documents the lives of two Afghans participating in the political process to develop a new constitution for Afghanistan—illustrating the "human face" of democracy-building and elucidating the complexities and difficulties of democratic construction in a divided and historically conflict-ridden nation.
This unit provides students the opportunity to engage more deeply with issues raised in Hell of a Nation and to learn more about the politics of the loya jirga in which Afghanistan's new constitution was ratified.
Lesson One introduces students to the geography, history, economy, cultural diversity, and political context of Afghanistan. This information goes through the country's history and ends at the Constitutional Loya Jirga, which is the focus of the documentary film.
Lesson Two is a structured viewing of Hell of a Nation. The topics, guiding questions, and activities included with the structured viewing allow small groups of students to engage more deeply with specific topics and issues raised in the film.
Lesson Three is a post-film readers' theater activity that takes the form of a news conference held at the conclusion of the loya jirga. This activity provides students with more information about the loya jirga and allows them to engage with the various perspectives and contentious issues that shaped the loya jirga and the constitution that emerged.