Picturing Pakistan

October 1, 2009
No home: Thousands gather at makeshift camp in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, following a massive 2005 earthquake that killed 80,000 people and displaced 3.5 million people.

No home: Thousands gather at makeshift camp in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, following a massive 2005 earthquake that killed 80,000 people and displaced 3.5 million people. Teru Kuwayama

As the front line of the war on terror shifts to central Asia, so has the work of photographer Teru Kuwayama and journalist Christian Parenti. In recognition of their storytelling, Duke's Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) has awarded the pair the nineteenth Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize.

Their project, "Unnatural Borders, Open Wounds: The Human Landscape of Pakistan," will explore Pakistan "through the lives of its myriad ethnic and tribal groups, and its vast population of refugees and displaced peoples," according to Kuwayama and Parenti.

Pakistan's short and troubled national history began in 1947, in a violent partition from what had been the British Indian Empire. As many as 1 million people were killed as India and Pakistan split along religious lines, and an estimated 15 million refugees fled to majority Hindu or Muslim sides of the border that sliced through the province of Punjab. Since then, three wars have been fought between India and Pakistan for control of the region of Kashmir, and three million people have been displaced along what is known as the Line of Control.

The northern border of Pakistan dates from 1893, when a junior British officer drew the Durand Line separating the region from Afghanistan, arbitrarily splitting a vast tribal area that remains the heart of what is called "Pashtunistan." Two centuries later, the U.S., its NATO allies, and the Pakistani army remain mired in fighting along the border.

Parenti is a contributing editor for The Nation and Playboy. He has reported extensively from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. His work has appeared in Fortune, the London Review of Books, the International Herald Tribune, Mother Jones, and Salon.com. He is the author of three books.

Kuwayama is a freelance photographer based in New York. His photographs have appeared in such magazines as Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Outside, Fortune, and Vibe. Currently, he is a John S. Knight Foundation Fellow at Stanford University, focusing on conflict reporting in South Asia. Kuwayama will be a featured guest at the annual CDS Doc U Arts Institute this October; the program provides an opportunity for advanced students to learn from documentary professionals.

The pair met in Baghdad in 2003. They were in Iraq independently, but in their travels, they visited many of the same places and recorded their parallel journeys. They later coauthored The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq, a book that reflects on their experiences.

The $20,000 award is given to encourage collaboration in documentary work in the tradition of acclaimed American photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor. Lange and Taylor worked together for many years, most notably on fieldwork that resulted in American Exodus, a seminal work in documentary studies published in 1941.