A Distant War



IMPORTANT NOTE: Our class will be on Monday next week at 4pm in Mason Hall Room 3356.   The photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg will talk about his time in Afghanistan, and his book A Distant War. Here’s a review of it by none other than Dexter Filkins:

[Since 1979], the Soviets retreated, in 1989, ushering in an epoch of civil war that helped to bring the Taliban to power, in 1996. And then, in 2001, came the Americans. Entire generations of Afghans—not to mention journalists, diplomats, and aid workers—have come and gone.  Not Robert Nickelsberg. Nickelsberg, a photographer, came to Afghanistan for the first time in January, 1988, on assignment for Time, to cover the Soviet occupation, and has returned regularly ever since. Nickelsberg has documented each period with searching eyes and a fearless comportment, capturing the novel and the surreal in a war that never ends.


Robert Nickelsberg

Nickelsberg has visited Afghanistan more than 50 times, and continued to take pictures throughout the Taliban years (1996-2001), when photography of human beings was banned.  In this Nat Geo interview, he describes how he did that:

 Each trip was a gamble. You had to register with foreign ministry and were given a guide and were not allowed to work without him at your side. Everything had to come onto a wish list of stories or interviews and they worked on it for you. They’re also reporting back to their seniors about you, what you’re like, if you’re some narrow-minded gringo, did you only want to take pictures of women—or of schools, when schools were closed…..  You could see if they’d take money at the end of the day, ten dollars or five dollars. If they did, you could see what did it get you the next day. You’d have to try everything—luscious meals, heavy meat lunches. If they went for the bait, so to speak, you might have a successful or fairly successful trip, or at least get to every appointment you hoped for.

Look at his website and come armed with questions.  Blog of the Week this week is shared by Carolyn Gearig and Alli Cope for writing about the pressures placed on female journalists.