Life in a Refugee Camp As Seen Through the Eyes of Young Refugees

Ali Morad, 11 years old, self-portrait using a mirror. All images herein copyrighted by the respective photographers and Reza Visual Academy.

The astonishing number of people fleeing war in the past half-decade has caused increased editorial attention toward the complex circumstances and dire conditions of refugees, and much of this coverage presents them in terms of how they impact destination countries. However, Reza, an internationally acclaimed photographer, has placed cameras and photography training in the hands of young refugees, who produce astonishing images that let us understand displacement through their eyes, and at the same time, help them cope with being outcast by war.
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The Golem and the Jinni — Mythological Jewish and Arab Creatures Go Bump in the New York City Night

Helene Wecker’s first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, places two beings from very different, and at first glance, opposing cultural origins, in a turn-of-the-century Lower Manhattan arena. How they meet and who they become to each other are both impossibilities that can only happen in New York City. Chava, the golem, was created for an Eastern European Jew migrating to the United States by an isolated and mystical rabbi with a mastery of dark arts. She is transported in a wooden box by her new master, who she never really knows, because he dies halfway across the ocean. Ahmed, the jinni, finds his way to America in a copper container with a stopper. After centuries of imprisonment, he is chagrined to find himself unleashed in an unimpressive New York City. read more

Aziza Brahim’s Songs Remind Us of Decades of Refugee Life

And while we’re on the topic of refugees, let’s not forget about a four decade-plus ongoing refugee issue in Western Sahara that began following its 1975 independence from Spain and its subsequent struggle for nationhood against the Kingdom of Morocco. Aziza Brahim is a Sahrawi singer-songwriter who has spent most of her life exiled from her Western Sahara homeland, and she has not forgot. read more

The Freedom Theatre in Jenin — Inspiring Palestinian Aspirations for Freedom

Eager audiences waiting for a performance at The Freedom Theatre

Using performance art as a form of resistance is not new, and we need only a cursory look at theater and film to remind us how filmmakers and playwrights have used performance to call out unfair treatment of people by power and authority. Euripides’s The Trojan Women; Shakespeare’s Richard III; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; and more recently, Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now; Steven Spielberg‘s Amistad; Ava DuVernaySelma; and James Cameron’s Avatar all touch on powerful political and social issues that inspire audience response above and beyond mere entertainment. Even George Lucas’s Star Wars is often viewed as a post-colonialist critique warning against a dystopian fascist future.

Therefore it makes sense that Palestinians participating in The Freedom Theatre in the West Bank use theater and performance as a tactic of resistance, learning, and cultural expression. read more

Visiting the Others: Aylam Rosenthal Ventures Into the West Bank Taking Photos and Gathering Stories.

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Just out of high school and not quite in college, Aylam Rosenthal is couch-surfing in Israel or perhaps working on a kibbutz right now. Although American, he spends time in Israel with his dad or grandparents, and he carries with him a family gift: his digital camera. His style of photography is highly colorful and light, and his images of peers convey romantic transformations from adolescence to adulthood equal to what you’ll see in GAP lifestyle advertising or Real Simple editorial. This could be a narrative of a young man traveling abroad leaving a trail of Instagram and Facebook photo journal images chronicling discovery of culture and heritage. However, he has ventured past Israeli security crossings into Palestinian territory, zone B, where he’s gained the trust of villagers, photographed them, and retold their stories. read more