The magazine of the photo-essay
Sept 2016 back issue
Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear
by Paula Bronstein
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
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In the fall of 2001, the award-winning American photojournalist Paula Bronstein traveled to Afghanistan on assignment for Getty Images to document the U.S-led “Occupation Enduring Freedom” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Captivated by the indomitable resilience and spirit of the Afghan people and the rugged beauty of their country’s landscape, Bronstein has made Afghanistan her mission ever since. She has returned to the country repeatedly over the past 14 years to document the lives of the Afghan people against the backdrop of a brutal and protracted war. This remarkable and nuanced body of work is gathered together for the first time in Bronstein’s powerful new monograph Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear (University of Texas Press, August 2016). Bronstein documents the on-going challenges still facing the country today - among them, human rights abuses against women, poverty, heroin addiction and increased violence and instability—to the stirrings of new hope, including women
participating in elections for the first time, education for girls, and expanded job and recreational opportunities for both men and women.  Afghanistan is cited by international rights groups as one of the worst places to live if you are born female and Bronstein’s searing photographs bear this out – from her depiction of the struggle of Afghanistan’s over 2.5 million war widows many of whom are left penniless and powerless and forced to beg on the streets, to the anguish and desperation of Afghan women who practice self-immolation to escape forced marriages and domestic abuse. Bronstein counters the tough issues with positive photographs of women active at political rallies and girls engaged in learning in school classrooms. At the core of Bronstein’s work is her compassion for her subjects and her ability to gain extraordinary access to document the hope and beauty as well as the harsh realities of their lives. She is relentless in her pursuit of stories she believes must be shared with the world, and she goes after them, sometimes at great personal risk. In her afterword in the book, Bronstein writes: “I have made some of the most extraordinary photos of my career in Afghanistan, with face after face offering a complex and intriguing gaze and revealing the constant tension between optimism and reality that shapes the lives of so many here. I keep going back, motivated and inspired by those faces, pushing against the difficulties, hoping to find fewer doors slamming shut and more people seeing reasons to smile.”
Woman in white burqa at the Blue Mosque.
Elderly man holds his granddaughter.
Girl looks through restaurant window hoping for leftovers.
Razima holds her two year old son Malik.
Miriam (20), 9 months pregnant, shows the scars that resulted from her suicide attempt three months earlier. Devastated by an abusive, violent marriage, she doused herself with household fuel and set it alight. She now lives with her mother and her husband is moving back in with her and her two-year-old daughter.
Many families who, fleeing the Taliban, took refuge inside caves adjacent to Bamiyan’s destroyed ancient Buddha statues, now have nowhere else to live.
Mahbooba stands against bullet-ridden wall.
US Army Sergeant and wounded Afghan National Army soldiers.
Afghan National Army battalion
Young women cheer at a rally.
Burqa-clad women wait to vote
Women's rights activists grieve at the home of Farkhunda Malikzada.
Naiz Bibi.
Afghans at the Killi Faizo refugee camp reach for bags of rice.
Students recite prayers in outdoor classroom.
Addicts inject heroin.
Bodybuilders in a regional competition.
Buzkashi players carry headless calf.
Band-e-Amir National Park
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