chapter  12
Creating safe space in a hostile place
Exploring the Marathon of Afghanistan through the lens of safe space
WithMadeleine Orr, Anna Baeth
Pages 15

Afghanistan is a country afflicted by protracted conflict, recurrent natural disasters and social and economic inequality. Until 2001, the Taliban controlled the country, imposing strict religious laws and restrictions on women and girls’ participation in public life. Nearly 20 years later, little has improved in the way of access to education for women and girls, let alone sport opportunities, due to lingering cultural restrictions and widespread fear of conflict. Despite these challenges, a group of local and international volunteers in Bamyan, a province of Central Afghanistan, founded the country's first public, outdoor, coed sport event: the Marathon of Afghanistan. In its first three years, the event has been met with equal measures of resistance and success as the organisers have navigated the creation of safe space. Through structured interviews and media content analysis, the authors delineate how safe space was produced in and through this event, highlighting the importance of relationship building in creating safe events. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of this work for the disciplines of event management, sport management, tourism, gender studies and anthropology.