Congressional Disappearences And Drone Victim Appearences

They, Rafeeq, Zubair, and Nabeela, came all the way from North Waziristan to give testimony to the US Congress about the devastation and suffering caused by the American and Pakistani drone attacks. It was the first time victims of drone attacks were ‘permitted’ to actually stand face-to-face with those defining the war policies in the region and speak about the consequences of their decisions. Details »

Musings And Confusions 16 October 2013

This week has been a bit demanding. I am starting to return to the entire set of previous year’s work from Pakistan and need to sit and complete my posting of interviews and photographs that have mostly been sitting on my hard drives. I am also returning to my India work from 2011 and a new book layout and design work is being done. There has been a lot of reading to do about a possible project in Yemen, but that trip seems to have been delayed because of some new commitments coming up in New York. And then there is the super complicated arrangements I need to make if I am to ever begin anything close to a photo project in Rwanda. And I will not even mention a new USA project idea that is rattling around somewhere in the back of my head. I do wish that in all this there was an idea that was sellable and could convince editors to work with me more. Alas, I am off on tangents that seem only to satisfy my own curiosity, and leave most in the world of markets and sales, bored and indifferent. How long can this last? Well, another week or so at least. No but, seriously, its been an overwhelming week of ideas and plans, tests and explorations. Much to do, and new trips on the horizon, but at the same time, a real need to step back and look at the work done so far and to start to organise, collect, and put it together into something. In the mean time, here are some things that swept by me this week: Details »

Musings And Confusions – 8 October 2013

Rwanda mesmerizes and confuses. To date I have avoided producing any work from here. The question of the genocide still hands heavy, and certainly, remains the main prism through which the country is examined by almost all photographers. But of course, now, nearly 20 years after that horror, the scars and sensitivities still remain. It is near impossible to step away from them. And for some it has become a means to connect to a powerful world of money and influence, to gain favor with those who have access to corridors of imperial power. And there is nothing like a group of American Jewish billionaires with a unquestining, and frequently immoral, support for all things Israeli, to cozy up to. And as much as I want this nation to emerge stronger, more beautiful and more complete in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, it is moments like these when I see its leader hanging around with vile, corrupt, and mindlessly inhumane people, when I become worried. Details »

Musings And Confusions 4 October 2013

I have been told that I risk losing friends who no longer wish to speak to me, but rather just read these Musings & Confusions posts as they encapsulate so many of the things I have been speaking and discussing during the week. So be it. Human company can be quite a burden. So there.

Listen to the funny, intelligent and dissenting voice of Professor Deepa Kumar whose book Islamophobia & The Politics Of Empire I have just finished reading. She speaks about the political nature of Islamophobia and its an important talk. It is an unspoken and perhaps worst, unacknowledged bias that underpins so much of today’s ‘liberal’ discourse in the United States and Europe. Here she is speaking about this phenomenon that is tainting so much of public, political, and secular debate today:

The influence of Edward Said is visible in her work. Which of course only makes it more interesting. Her book is an excellent primer for anyone trying to get a handle on how Islamophobia has been playing out in our modern democracies. Details »

Musings And Confusions – 28 September 2013

I am in Dhaka teaching a workshop at Counter Foto. The students have been launched towards a series of rather interesting projects despite an initial series of story suggestions that were largely trapped in classical conventions of photojournalism. The workshop is concentrating on getting them to move past simply making ‘nice’ images, and to start to think about complicated projects that bring together text, statistics, facts, figures, and a point-of-view. A student’s interest in producing a story about the Bihari refugees in Dhaka has been transformed into a complicated family tree exploration of the ‘idea’ of identity across a single family’s bloodline. Another student’s growing awareness Details »

Musings And Confusions – 20 September 2013

From a statement that I read at a recent panel discussion:

…speaking as a photographer, and speaking as an American photographer – it remains shocking to me, that not a single major photojournalists – whether independent or other – has, in the last 13 years, embarked on a major long-term project dedicated to the documentation of the injustices, cruelties, prejudices, and discriminations inflicted on a the Arab / Muslim communities of the USA or of any one of the countries attacked and occupied since 9/11 – not one. Details »

Musings & Confusions – 12 September 2013

In this video, the founder of some video analysis firm that has design algorithms that parse video and turn it into data, inadvertently becomes an excellent example of the stupidity and paranoia that is embedded in anything that man designs. trying to impress us by connecting a bland pitch for his company to a contemporary issue, he tells us how his algorithms pars YouTube videos being posted by people in Syria to look for data. his example – last month we say a Kalashnikov machine gun in videos 5 times, and this month we saw it 25 times, this jump is significant. you can already see how idiotic this analysis is on so many levels – that what may be nothing other than say a lazy videographer and lover of guns filming the same gun 5 times more often, is transformed to ‘imply’ an increase in armament, or a ratcheting up of the violence, or anything of significance. Details »

Speaking In New York At The Open Society Institute: Ungrievable Lives & Unintended Consequences: Pakistan, US and “War On Terror”

This panel with Sarah Belal, Director of Justice Project Pakistan, author and academic Saadia Toor (author of the excellent new book The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan, and Open Society Fellow Asim Rafiqui, will examine the human costs of the “war on terror” for Pakistanis and its implications for the rule of law, governance, and justice in Pakistan. Details »

Bagram: The Other Guantanamo Campaign Website

The Bagram prisoner campaign website is now up, and we will continue to post new stories and new legal and other documents at the site in the coming weeks. The full report put together by JPP can also be found on the site – it is worth a read. We have separated its key recommendations section for easier access and reading. Details »

Speaking Out On Behalf Of The Forgotten: Bagram: The Other Guantanamo Washington D.C. & New York @ The Fridge Gallery 12 September 2013

I have already written about this work – the last three months spent traveling across Pakistan to meet with and photograph the families of the men who remain trapped in America’s other dark prison – Bagram. 40 pakistan men, some who have been there for over 11 years, have been thrown into this dark hole and are being held illegally, indefinitely and unjustly. These men are the detritus of the great ‘War Against Terror’, the forgotten hundreds who languish in prisons and torture centers across the globe and our thirst for revenge remains unsatiated. Today it is politics and not evidence of crimes, that keeps the men imprisoned there. Details »

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