All posts filed under: Fulbright

Etem Erol, 1955-2016

The last message I had from Etem hoca was just a few days before he passed away. I had a night layover in Istanbul on my way to Odessa for two months and I asked if he wanted to join some friends for dinner, so naturally I invited Etem, as I had not been back to the city I called home for two years in over a year. He wrote to say he regretted he could not make it that he was leaving early that same morning for Bulgaria with his brother. It was in Bulgaria, I came to learn just a few nights ago from a classmate and fellow student in his Elementary Turkish I class so many years ago, that he had a heart attack and died in his brother’s arms. He was so young, 60, and with so much life and so much still to give. I write this with tears streaming down my face and it’s been more than a day now since I heard this really excruciatingly painful news. It …

2013 Poynter Fellowship at Yale University

A few months back, I was notified that I was named the recipient of a Poynter Fellowship at Yale University to give a talk this fall on my work photographing “Protests, Pipelines + Women” in Turkey and Azerbaijan at Yale University. I will be joined by economics professor Tolga Koker. The talk is sponsored by the University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. The date is now set for October 1, 2013 at 4pm in Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, Yale University. The talk is free and open to the public. More information is available on the Yale University website. Yale Daily News article, “Photojournalist Discusses Travels, Gender“.

Voice of Russia American Edition Interview: Is Azerbaijan’s J-Lo Concert Taunting Iran?

Is Azerbaijan’s J-Lo Concert Taunting Iran? Voice of Russia American Edition Oct 16, 2012 19:37 Moscow Time Interview with Ric Young The country of Azerbaijan appears to be embracing western culture and irritating its conservative Islamic neighbor, Iran, by holding concerts with popular western female singers and sponsoring a women’s athletic event. But is the country as liberal as it appears? Host Ric Young talks with photojournalist Amanda Rivkin from Istanbul about the country: (Listen here.) Rihanna, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez have all appeared at concerts in Azerbaijan recently, but the singers have been condemned by critics due to Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record. In Rivkin’s opinion, the events are less about twitting Iran with a production of “scantily clad” western singers, and more about trying to improve their global image. The true tension between Azerbaijan and Iran is based on ethnicity, rather than women’s rights.

The Year in Pictures 2011: Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Turkey

The Year in Pictures 2011 The annus horribilis of 2011 is coming to a close – a year that will go down as one of dramatic upheaval and revolution alongside 1789, 1848, 1917, 1989, and now, this year. In Egypt, young revolutionaries overthrew the government of Hosni Mubarak after 31 years of subservience to a one-party state bolstered by an omnipresent muhabarata, or secret service, further bolstered by an overreaching military, after Egyptians witnessed similar events in Tunisia lead to the removal of that country’s former leader Ben Ali. Consequently, the domino theory made a surprise return as events in Egypt triggered revolts elsewhere in Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Of these, only Libya’s leader fell after rebels received aerial support from NATO war planes; Qaddafi was found hiding in a drainage canal near his hometown of Sirte (or Surt, depending on your news source and spelling) and subsequently dragged through the streets, sodomized with a knife and otherwise tormented before being shot in the head. In the Libyan conflict three photographers lost their lives, …

Thanksgiving Turkey From Murguzali Village, Imishli Region, Azerbaijan

For the passed two days, I was in a tiny village of Azerbaijan called Murguzalli, photographing the story of a French woman, Yvonne Botto, who was born in Monaco in 1928 and raised in the town of La Fayet, France. As a young woman in her teenage years she met, and fell in love with an Azeri man who had escaped from a German prisoner of war camp and attended her father’s clandestine communist meetings. They wed in France and soon his homeland beckoned and he took his new wife Yvonne to his home village, a journey that lasted three months by rail in 1947 and then three days from Baku by “araba,” a homemade form of transportation much like a horse-drawn wagon that really lacks translation. Two years later, she had a son and three years later at the age of 29 her husband was dead of an unknown illness. Since her son was a Soviet citizen, she was unable to take him home with her to France, so she decided to stay and …

Touching the Stars: Azerbaijan and Eurovision

While attending the World Youth Festival, sponsored by the pro-government Yeni Azerbaycan Partiyasi (New Azerbaijan Party) youth organization Ireli, I had a chance to meet Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Camal, better known as Ell + Nikki, winners of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest hosted in Düsseldorf, Germany. Their victory means Azerbaijan gets to play host to next year’s contest. As a very serious observer of the contest and perhaps most interestingly, the politics surrounding the contest, this was no small thrill. When Azerbaijan won last May, I was nowhere near Europe or a place to watch the contest, but I knew almost immediately of Azerbaijan’s victory. I had already secured the Fulbright grant to Azerbaijan; my close friends and family who are well aware of my obsession with the Eurovision competition made sure I knew who the victor was. Quite simply, my phone blew up. Several months before I arrived in Baku, I think it was the first sign that I was really on my way to Azerbaijan. From yesterday’s brief remarks at the opening …