Documenting Tragedy: The Ethics of Photojournalism (NPR)

One of the main subjects I’ve been stuck on with my decision to move forward with documenting native cultures around the world is the question of ethics and how to approach these subjects without causing any feelings of invasion of personal/sacred space or exploitation. Here’s a helpful piece I found published by NPR on the ethics of documenting tragedies, which approaches a similar process.

 

https://www.npr.org/2012/12/06/166666261/documenting-tragedy-the-ethics-of-photojournalism

Thoughts on moving forward

Officially beginning my journey of writing and photographing the Baltic, Balkan and circumpolar regions of the world where I will focus on their native cultures, environmental issues, folk history, art, etc. No more jobs that make me want to die. If anything I’d rather continue thriving in survival mode among beautiful places where I meet the people of the world. Welcome to my blog, where I will try to document my journey.

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

” Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says. ”

Writing by Ann Gibbons; Read the full article on Science Mag here.

A fading culture adapts to the changing times in this Arctic town

‘With each new border and political shift, the indigenous women of Chukotka, Russia adjust to maintain their heritage and survive.’

mtn_elizavete_russia2017-27_opt

“Elizaveta is Siberian Yupik and was born in 1942 in the village of Naukan, Chukotka, on the edge of the Bering Sea. She lived there until 1949. When she was seven years old her family moved about 50 miles away to Lavrentiya. Naukan remained her summer home until 1958 when the Soviet authorities closed the village. They explained that Naukan was not a good place to build modern houses and that it was not healthy to live in yurangas, traditional tents. In the summer of 1958, the usual supply ship with food and coal did not come, and within two months Naukan was closed and its people banned from returning.

At that time, Elizaveta remembers her great uncle saying “If they close Naukan, we will lose our language.” “Now,” she told me, “that is what has happened … My grandchildren do not speak it.” Yet 60 years after that relocation Yiakunneun lives on, hidden in a special place in this apartment, just as she would have been hidden in the yuranga generations ago. I wonder where she will be generations from now, who will look after her, and what a Yupik home will look like by then.” – Jennifer Kingsley, 2019. Read the full article here.