In the late summer of 2021, after decades of instability, Afghanistan was rocked by yet another tragically familiar upheaval when the Taliban assumed power. It seemed to take them only days, but in actual fact there had been signs long before that the fall of Kabul was imminent. To understand more clearly how this was possible, we need detailed and reliable insights. How do people from Afghanistan – both inside the country and abroad – perceive the situation? What are the real-life conditions for the latest developments? What underlying religious and social factors motivate the Taliban? This special issue addresses questions such as these. It brings together articles that describe and contextualise the background, effects, and resonance of the fall of Kabul in 2021. The articles help, for example, to develop a more nuanced understanding of ‘the’ Taliban; they tell about everyday life in small Afghan towns, about deployment as a soldier in Afghanistan, and about families who have been refugees for generations. On the one hand, the issue contributes to an understanding of one of the most important events in global politics in the early 2020s. On the other, it shows that anthropological studies on Afghanistan offer a vivid impression of the current state of anthropology as a discipline (Monsutti 2013). This special issue is aimed not only at colleagues within the discipline who appreciate relevant yet reader-friendly articles, but also – and especially – at non-anthropologists with an interest in Afghanistan. The main section contains the centrepiece of this issue: eight texts by various Afghanistan experts. The editorial and the afterword frame the issue and suggest various main and cross-cutting themes for which the articles can be read. The appendix offers a short outline of important historical events in Afghanistan, to provide background and context for the articles.