12/22/2012 12:36 pm ET

Afghanistan Photos: Inside The Lives Of The Country's Emerging Middle Class (PHOTOS)

As the war in Afghanistan rages on and photos of wounded soldiers, Afghan troops, women in burqas and roadside bombs dominate the conflict's imagery, French photographer Sandra Calligaro provides a fascinating look inside the lives of one of Afghanistan's less portrayed demographic groups -- the country's emerging middle class.

Calligaro visited Kabul's supermarkets, its shopping mall, universities and hookah cafes. She spent time with young men "affecting tight jeans and gel-sculpted hair" and with families in their private homes and apartments.

Calligaro writes:

Even as war has ravaged much of Afghanistan, an urban middle class has emerged in cities like Kabul and Herat and Mazar-i Sharif — a product, largely, of the influx of foreign money that has attended the coalition’s efforts since 2001. In contrast to the cliché images of turbaned elders and blue-burqa-clad women — of dusty, destitute bazars and mud-mortar huts — a growing section of Afghan society leads a relatively Westernized life.

Calligaro's photo essay 'Afghan Dreams' was published on the website Razistan, a project working with both local Afghan photographers and foreign photojournalists. The name Razistan means "land of secrets," and the project aims to give Afghanistan, its people and the war that is raging the attention they deserve.

Check out Calligaro's photos in the slideshow below and visit Razistan's website for more photography out of Afghanistan.

Afghan Dreams