Narges Hakimi

Narges Hakimi is a university student majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and International Relations.

In this piece Hakimi explores her cultural background and the Afghani and Australian influences behind her decision to undertake a Bachelor of International Studies.



- Narges Hakimi

I was raised in a traditional ethnic household. My parents were both born in Afghanistan and fled the war against the Taliban in 1993. My grandparents along with their seven children including my father immigrated to Australia to re-establish their lives in a safer and more prosperous environment. A country that would benefit their children and go on to benefit myself. As a young child, I grew up with a strong influence of my Afghan culture and heritage. I consider my first language to be the Dari dialect. My brother and I were both taught the moment we could speak. I learnt to speak English throughout kindergarten and my primary school years. I identify myself as an Afghan born in Australia. Australian customs were not entirely adopted in my family, but I integrated myself into the Australian culture; incorporating the norms without completely abandoning my own roots. My family’s heritage remains deeply entrenched.

From a young age, I was constantly exposed to sensitive topics and discussions pertaining to war and the conflict throughout the Middle East. More so, there was an inclination of prejudice by my grandfather as he had endured difficult times. My grandfather was held as a prisoner for four years by the Soviet forces at the time of their occupation of Afghanistan.

I understood that my family were directly affected by the tragic events that had forever transformed their lives, and I knew I could not acquire the same bias to the issue and must have an open mind. I learnt a lot about my country’s history directly from my grandfather, my father, and my uncles. I knew there were underlying explanations to a lot of the events that had occurred, and I was curious to explore them more deeply through education and alternative perspectives, as well as critically analyse it.

My cultural background and identity has definitely influenced my career choices immensely. I currently study a Bachelor of International Studies at Deakin University, double majoring in Middle East Studies and International Relations. One of the main reasons I decided to take this pathway was to increase my knowledge base and build my skills, but also so that I can help people become more politically and socially aware of issues occurring throughout the world today. Whether related to violence, Islamophobia, terrorism, or religion, I intend to break down the barriers that confine these important issues.

There is a lot of negativity and blame targeted towards certain groups of people generated from horrific events occurring in many states today. Most of this hatred stems from people’s ignorance and a lack of education beyond a superficial understanding of an issue. The importance of educating and facilitating a critical level of comprehension and knowledge regarding matters such as terrorism, religion and security is incredibly important in order to defuse the misconceptions and negative attitudes within the public sphere. We are currently in a time where racial vilification is increasing, whether it is targeted towards black people or Muslims, it is only causing disunity.

Today many people acquire a particular view which is entirely constructed on the basis of second hand information and bias, or simply their own harsh judgement which have been heavily influenced by media and one-sided stories. In today’s society, ignorance and the lack of knowledge are the catalysts for hate, criticism and negative overtones. As conflicts and attacks are becoming more prevalent in states, international studies and engagement in our increasingly connected world is crucial. The theories of International Relations provide us with a conceptual framework that assists us in understanding why states, non-state actors or individuals may act in a particular way.

My cultural background and heritage influences me as an individual, and affects my philosophical view of the world I live in. There should be no stigma attached to people or groups of colour, a certain religion or culture. I was born and raised in Australia, the same way as the people who are perpetuating judgement of certain groups. I did not grow up believing to hate or shame other cultures, or the ‘white race’. Whenever I was uncertain about a particular topic or issue, I had the initiative and took the time to educate myself and understand different perspectives and rationales before deciding on how I view the matter.

There is great value in people developing a basic understanding of all religions and different cultures, and most importantly to tolerate others and have an open mind. Only then can we develop a globally competent citizenry. My studies allow me to dissect and break down the stigma and prejudice that is placed on groups of people, particularly Muslims in Australia. International Studies enables me to inform people on issues occurring throughout the world, and the reasons as to why these events may take place. At a time when people’s negative perceptions and hatred propels more dissent, we can only try to counteract this kind of ignorance by helping people to develop a critical understanding of these important social, political and religious issues.

Ignorance is anything but bliss.

Photo credit: Narges Hakimi