Fear The Pushtun Bogeyman Or Scaring Children As An Imperialist Habit

Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Engaging the Muslim World. He has a regular column at Salon.com. and writes the Informed Comment blog.

He has now written what I think is the first piece that connects modern day American imperialist paranoia in Afghanistan to 19th century British imperialist paranoia in Afghanistan. Details »

Open See – Another Jim Goldberg Scream

Open See: Jim Goldberg

Open See: Jim Goldberg

I love Jim Goldberg’s work. His new book is fabulous and best of all, complicated. Jim continues to employ his seemingly random photographic methods using all sorts of different formats, borrowed images and even scratching and writing on the photographs themselves. Details »

Yes, Your Taste In Music Sucks Or What MTV Erases!

That can either be me talking about you, or your judgment of what I listen to these days. So enjoy it regardless!

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are an old style, talented, string band carrying on the tradition of some of the greatest string musicians from North and South Carolina. Tell me that Rhiannon Giddens voice isn’t simply hair raising!

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India As Fiction

I don’t have an exhaustive list – Indian literature is just too extensive and too diverse. I also have not read her writers in anything other than English and Urdu. That may still not represent a significant portion of India’s literary output. But India loves her books – anyone going to Kerala or walking into cafes in Calcutta will know what I mean. Details »

What To Bring…Some Thoughts On Preparing For The India Workshop

I had wanted to put together a well thought out, rigorously professional list of things to bring to India. I have been trying to do just that for a couple of days now. But each time I do the list just seems completely artificial and pointless. We are all different, and have different preferences. We all know what we have to have with us to make our photographs, and to be comfortable while working and resting. Clothes, toiletries, something fun to read, a couple of notebooks and a pen (preferably a fountain pen – more on that later!), a good pair of slippers. What else does a photographer need? Josef Koudelka famously said that 2 shirts and 2 pants are more than necessary and then its just a matter of going. Perhaps a bit ascetic, but he sets the bar for the minimum required. Details »

Wrapping Photographers Into The Packaging of War

They took the New York Times on a war tour. The Battle For Pakistan it was called when the magazine finally published the photographs their boys had so carefully constructed and bought back. They had all the elements that would suggest valor, fear, desperate battles, the struggle of ‘a state’ against an unseen but clearly fearsome enemy. Though to my eye it appeared to be a lot of pictures of Pakistani soldiers ‘posing’ – the kinds of pictures I know these soldiers often pose for whenever I have had to photograph them. They know the routine – it is a veritable war zone cat walk, Pakistan’s Next Top Soldier! There are ‘buckets’ of IEDs, emptied villages, men behind bars wearing their self incriminating, evidence acceptable in our modern courts of war, skull caps and beards. The Battle For Pakistan, a nation of 170 million, with a cultural and ethnic diversity that baffles most, was apparently being fought against a few hundred men with outdated guns and plastic buckets IEDs! Details »

What I Learnt From My Students & How It Was Not What I Had Planned On Teaching Them!

Earlier this year I taught a 1-week photography workshop in Dubai. I am not fond that city, and deliberately avoid going there for as long as I can remember. It has something to do with an early childhood memory of seeing poor Pakistani laborers being beaten with sticks by security police at the Dubai International Airport. I have since associated feelings of anger and sorrow with that town. But the workshop was being organized by a good friend and I could not say no. Details »

Panic Not! Ira Glass To The Rescue

After reading some of the recent posts focusing on the divergent and/or contradictory demands of academic and photographic project objectives, I thought that it would be useful for you all to step back and reconsider things.

Ira Glass. This American Life. A brilliant story teller. An amazing journalist. An inspiration to many. My friend Zoriah reminded me that perhaps the students should hear him talk about creative story telling and how the best of them actually work. He himself has written a post about Ira Glass on his blog. Details »

Where The Head Spun: Sunday, 12th July 2009

This week has been busy with some writings on The Idea of India photo project, but I did manage to come across some fascinating stuff:

Ikea Is As Bad A Wal-Mart; A piece in Salon magazine that reviews Ellen Ruppel Shell’s book Cheap.

Yes, it is our consumer habits that are driving these climate changes – the degradation of the soil, the cutting of forests, the polluting of the oceans, the exploitation of human labor in china and mexico, to name just two places, is all for the sake of our cheap consumer goods.  We may prefer to avoid this fact by trying to simply shop ‘green’, but shopping, and repeateded, frequent cycles of shopping are in fact why the problems are emerging. Details »

The Shock Of Gaza Or Salvaging Something From What Was Nearly Nothing

A few days after arriving in Gaza last January, I posted the following piece on the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting’s Untold Stories blog site dedicated to the Gaza project that writer Elliott Woods and I were working on. I think it fairly captures what was going on in my head during that time.

On the Getty Images archive you can type in ‘Gaza Destroyed’ and retrieve over 5,500 images to select from.  If you run the query ‘Gaza Funerals’ you will get back over 7,000 images.  I was unable to check the Corbis archives because at the time of writing this entry their site was undergoing maintenance.  But I am confident that I would find a similarly large number of images for both the queries above. Details »