Embroidering Within Boundaries (Paperback)

Afghan Women Creating a Future

By Rangina Hamidi, Mary Littrell, Paula Lerner (Photographer)

Thrums, LLC, 9780998452302, 172pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2017

List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Winner, Silver Medal in the Multicultural Category, 2018 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards

Fifteen years ago, Rangina Hamidi decided 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, using the exquisite traditional embroidery of Kandahar, to help women work within the cultural boundaries of Pashtunwali to earn their living and to find a degree of self-determination. Thus Kandahar Treasure was born. This book traces the converging paths of traditional khamak embroidery and the 300 brave women who have found in it a way to build their lives. The late, award-winning photojournalist Paula Lerner was dedicated to telling the stories of women in Afghanistan. Her remarkable images throughout the book show Afghan women's profound struggle, strength, and beauty.

About the Author

Rangina Hamidi is the founder and president of Kandahar Treasure. She has served as the manager of the women's Income Generation Project for Afghans for Civil Society and lives in Kandahar. Mary Littrell is a professor, Department Head Emerita of Design and Merchandising, 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. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Paula Lerner was an award-winning photojournalist and multimedia producer. She was the principal photographer for the Emmy Award-winning project, Behind the Veil.

Praise For Embroidering Within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future

"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