George Gavrilis has travelled throughout Central Asia and the Middle East and is a social scientist, oral historian, and consultant to international organizations and philanthropic institutions. He is a fellow at the Center for Democracy, Toleration, and Religion at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a senior consultant to the United Nations Development Program for Central Asia and Afghanistan and is conducting oral histories for the Council on Foreign Relations, the Harriman Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, and major philanthropic organizations.
Previously, he served as Executive Director of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue (Washington, DC and Istanbul, Turkey). He was an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and placed with the UN Department of Political Affairs, Middle East West Asia Division. He taught international relations and comparative politics at the University of Texas-Austin and has a PhD in political science from Columbia University.
He is author of The Dynamics of Interstate Boundaries, a book that explains why some states strike a balance between open and secure borders while others struggle to provide stability and prosperity to their frontier populations. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairsand other journals, and he is the author of The Council on Foreign Relations: A Short History.
Blog post: "Get to Know George Gavrilis"
You can read more from George on his blog posts "Afghanistan Comes Closer," "Saving an Afghan Success Story," "Love in Extreme Poverty - A review of Three Songs for Benazir," "How You Can Help Afghans," "We Only Get One Story - Two New Works About Afghanistan," and "Before the West - a review."
Laura Tedesco serves as the Cultural Heritage Program Manager for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Laura’s work is centered on supporting U.S. Embassies across the region in identifying and guiding cultural preservation projects supported by the Department of State. In 2021 there are more than 30 active projects that preserve intangible and built heritage of 13 regional nations.
Now based in Washington, D.C., Laura previously worked in Afghanistan at the U.S. Embassy from 2010-2012 developing and overseeing the State Department’s large-scale initiatives to support the preservation of Afghanistan’s cultural patrimony. Included among these more than 30 Afghanistan-centered initiatives includes development of an operational Master Plan for long-term support for the National Museum of Afghanistan.
Prior to joining the Department of State, Laura worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for 13 years. She has also worked in the private sector field of cultural resources management, managing archaeological recovery of cultural resources for land development and corporate investment programs. She has participated in archaeological excavations in Syria, Palestine, the Republics of Armenia and Georgia, Italy, Cyprus, and in several locations across the United States. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from New York University.
In August 2022, the Monuments Men and Women Foundation officially recognized Laura as a 21st-century Monuments Woman, describing her as one of the "courageous individuals who now or in recent past have distinguished themselves for their efforts to preserve and protect cultural heritage, especially those who did so in countries not their own."
Blog post, "6 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Laura Tedesco"
Eva is a pre-teen with musical tastes of a much older person: Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. Christmas songs are her favorites at any time of year. She is an artist at heart and spends free time drawing and painting. She will share her views on almost any topic and will listen closely when you share your views with her. Eva was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and she knows the capital city of every country in Central Asia. Eva loves to spend time with her friends, her cats, and dancing. She likes to watch movies with her brother and will let him choose the movie most of the time, but he never chooses Mamma Mia or Little Women which are her favorites.
Jamal was born and raised in Kabul and has family roots in provinces near the capital. He studied in Afghanistan and Europe, and worked in Kabul as a journalist, social science researcher, government technocrat, and consultant on development. As a youngster, he experienced the civil war and the first Taliban regime. From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, he owned a bicycle which he used to explore Kabul and its surrounding districts. When the Taliban entered Kabul again on August 15, 2021, he decided to stay.
He’s a powerful political observer. He’s a devout Muslim who bears a love of culture, history, and archaeology cultivated by his parents. As an Afghan, he often wonders what might have been for the country if things had gone well, particularly now that Afghanistan has experienced not only a regime change but a shift in paradigms. He says, “Knowing my past and present, I know the love affair with my homeland is a ‘dance of beauty and death’.”
*Given the current situation in Afghanistan, we have decided to not use Jamal’s real name. You can read more from Jamal on his blog posts "The Power of Dad's Books," "Three Thousand Years of Time, One Square Meter of Space," "A Few Thrilling Days for the Afghan People," and "The Jubilance of Nowruz."
Robert Nickelsberg worked as a Time magazine photographer for nearly 30 years. He began photographing in Afghanistan when he located to New Delhi, India in 1988 and from where he covered South Asia and the rise of Islamic and Hindu fundamentalism. His 2013 book, Afghanistan–A Distant War, published by Prestel, captures his 25 years of work in Afghanistan.
Nickelsberg was named the 2013 winner of the Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot Award for Afghanistan-A Distant War given for the best photographic reporting from abroad in magazines and books. His most recent book, Afghanistan’s Heritage: Restoring Spirit and Stone, was published in 2018 in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State. The book has been translated into Dari and Pashtu.
You can read more on Robert Nickelsberg's website and on the blog post "Afghanistan Comes Closer."
Toño Foraster Mariscal is co-founder and principal of AV62 Arquitectos. An important part of his work is focused on museography, cultural facilities, urban planning, and urban revitalization projects. His team has won international competitions, including the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul and the revitalization project of the Adhamiya district in Baghdad. National competition wins include the Balenciaga Museum in the coastal town of Getaria in Gipuzkoa Province, and the Sant Pol Library in Sant Boi de LLobregat and a variety of schools, nurseries, and social housing in Barcelona Province.
Foraster Mariscal has taught bachelors and masters courses, and been conference speaker, at both architecture and design schools. They include ETSAB Barcelona School of Architecture, ESARQ-School of Architecture, School of Architecture of Seville, EINA University School of Design and Art of Barcelona, ELISAVA Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, BAU Design College of Barcelona, and IED Barcelona Design School. From 2014 to 2015, he was Harry Porter Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia (USA). Prior to founding AV62 Arquitectos with Victoria Garriga in 1995, he worked with Josep Llinás of Carmona Architects. Originally from Bilbao, Foraster Mariscal is a graduate of ETSAB Barcelona School of Architecture.
You can read more about Toño Foraster Mariscal on AV62's website.
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