“America, Again” | Chapter 6: American Imperium

“America, Again” is a year-long project by the photographers of VII, an exploration of some of the most important issues facing American voters as they head to the polls on November 3rd. This is Chapter 6: American Imperium which includes essays by Suzy Hansen, Anthony Loyd, and Jill Filipovic as well as photo stories by Hector Guerrero, Stefano De Luigi, Nichole Sobecki, Valentina Sinis, Leonardo Carrato, Forough Alaei, and two essays curated for this chapter from the VII archive.

© Hector Guerrero / VII Mentor Program.

Introduction essay by Suzy Hansen

May of 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent his vice president, Richard Nixon, to visit Latin America. By then, over a decade into the Cold War, the Americans wanted to win hearts and minds in the so-called Third World. But when Nixon toured Venezuela, a crowd erupted in protest. “Get out, dog!” they cried, “We won’t forget Guatemala!” The protesters threw rocks at Nixon’s car, shattering the car windows. Eisenhower recognized that the Americans had a public relations problem. In a meeting with his national security advisers, the president observed that “capitalism, which means one thing to us … clearly meant to much of the rest of the world something synonymous with imperialism.” He suggested they come up with new phrases for the American project. Among them were “free enterprise,” the “free world,” and “freedom.”¹

If American propaganda failed to convince Venezuelans, or Iranians, or Chinese, it succeeded in shaping the collective worldview of its own citizenry. Of the many ways the United States government has insulated its citizens from responsibility for their role in the world, the use of language may be the most pernicious. It is still common, for example, to hear pundits, journalists, and politicians attribute the invasion of Iraq to “idealism,” the genuine belief that the Americans could bring the Iraqis “freedom.” Rarely in these discussions are Americans compelled to consider what that word had come to mean by 2003, or its long, deceptive history. James Baldwin once identified that white Americans and Black Americans had different “systems of reality;” a similar condition exists between Americans and the rest of the world.

Americans still not only rarely hear how the world speaks of American power, they know little of its effect on individual lives, not only from wars or invasions, but economic policies, international laws, and political whims. The photographs in this series address this gulf: Iranians separated from their loved ones because of Trump’s travel ban; migrants lured by America’s promise trapped at the border; women whose bodies are politicized by American policies; the possibility that China and the U.S. could enter a Cold War with as deleterious repercussions as the one with the Soviets. The photos not only help to understand the way American actions impact millions of lives across the globe. They remind us that the Americans and the rest of the world are connected by American power, that every U.S. election affects the world as much as Americans, that we live in a shared reality.

It is striking how many of these photos of today’s America do not echo the story Americans like to tell themselves about America: the melting pot, Ellis Island, bring me your tired. These photos often tell a story of exclusion. Today, America’s president uses words like “freedom” to mean the liberation of the American people from the humanity beyond its borders. One series of photographs here, however, remembers WWII, when Americans left their own shores to assist a foreign people against a fascist foe. Superimposed on the photos of American war veterans, and American gravestones, are the jarring, isolationist words of America’s current president. The effect is sobering, and of course, might inspire Americans to feel nostalgic for a more honorable time. But I wonder if we might also look at the composition as an act of questioning: What was in that honorable history that was a myth? What was lurking within us that led us to Donald Trump? Might the rest of the world know something about ourselves, our long history, our shared reality, that we Americans stopped being able to understand so long ago?

[1] The author would like to credit historian Alex von Tunzelmann’s wonderful book “Red Heat: Conspiracy, Murder and the Cold War in the Caribbean” (Henry Holt, 2011) for this passage.

Border Wars

Photos and essay by Hector Guerrero


It is 4 p.m. in an area known as Playas de Tijuana. This is Latin America’s north corner, the last stretch of land that starts in La Patagonia ends here with a towering wall, which day after day is becoming higher, stronger, and impenetrable. Near the border line, there is a couple kissing. Next to them, a man with his daughter and son is making a video call to relatives living on the other side of the map.


The way is too long, endless. There are moments when all I can see is white sand, the desert sand of Baja California. In the middle of nowhere, I see a group of hard-working men. This is the famous wall President Trump announced during his political campaign. The “high and beautiful wall,” as he referred to it then, has arrived to the desert, in a lonely place where nothing has arrived before.


It’s a warm Monday at 7 p.m., time for a traffic jam in the city of Tijuana. Inside the Red Cross station, Ulises Rodriguez, a paramedic, waits with his colleagues to answer emergency calls. They rush to crime scenes; they deal with victims with gunshot wounds, victims who are bleeding out. There are no hospitals that can take them. They are filled with COVID patients. Violence doesn’t stop for the pandemic.

Guatemala, October 19, 2018: Honduran migrants who had made their way through Central America gather at Guatemala’s northern border with Mexico despite President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy the military to stop them from entering the United States.
Guatemala, October 19, 2018: Members of the migrant caravan rest on the bank of the Suchiate River, near the Guatemala-Mexico international bridge, in the border city of Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico. Honduran migrants who have made their way through Central America were gathering at Guatemala’s northern border with Mexico.
Tecun Uman, Guatemala, October 19, 2018: Members of the migrant caravan wait at the gates to enter Mexico as fellow immigrants clash with Mexican riot police at the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Migrants and police faced off when the caravan of thousands of migrants tried to cross into Mexico after pushing past Guatemalan security forces.
Tecun Uman, Guatemala, October 19, 2018: Members of the migrant caravan climb over a gate separating Guatemala from Mexico. The caravan of thousands of immigrants, mostly from Honduras, pushed open the gate on the Guatemalan side and crossed the bridge to Mexico but were then pushed back by Mexican riot police.
Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, October 19, 2018: A Honduran migrant protects his child after fellow migrants, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., stormed a border checkpoint on the Guatemalan-Mexico border.
Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, October 20, 2018: Immigrants waded through the Suchiate River while crossing the border from Guatemala into Mexico. The caravan of thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, hopes to eventually reach the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cancel a recent trade deal with Mexico and withhold aid to Central American countries if the caravan isn’t stopped.
San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico, October 21, 2018: Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the U.S. rest at a temporary shelter in southern Mexico. On October 26, Mexico announced it will offer Central American migrants medical care, education for their children, and access to temporary jobs as long as they stay in two southern states.
Huixtla, Chiapas state, Mexico, October 23, 2018: Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the U.S. rest at a makeshift camp in the rain after walking for two days into Mexican territory. Thousands of mainly Honduran migrants heading to the United States — a caravan President Donald Trump has called an “assault on our country.”
Tijuana, Mexico, November 17, 2018: Migrants shower. Showers were set up for migrants in front of a wall at the outfield fence of the Unidad Deportiva Benito Juárez, a sports complex that has been converted to a shelter.
Tijuana, Mexico, November 11, 2018: A woman sells shrimp in front of the border wall, a gathering place for many who have been separated from their families by U.S. immigration policies.
San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico, January 6, 2019: Miriam and her son, Augusto, from Guatemala wait in makeshift camps in front of the Mexican side of the border wall. Thousands of migrants who have arrived with the different caravans in the last two months continue to be stranded between Mexico and the United States. Both countries have begun different plans to face the migration crisis; however, there is still no precise picture of the actions of these new policies.
Tijuana, Mexico, November 16, 2018: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official stands guard next to the border wall after a group of migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, crossed illegally from Mexico into the U.S.

I Miss You, America

Photos and essay by Stefano De Luigi

Since 2017, I’ve had this feeling of loss. I have lost a good friend — more of an older sister, actually — someone I’ve always turned to when I’ve needed help finding balance in life. There have been times when I’ve disagreed with her, but I always acknowledge her and what she means to me. She is the North Star of democracy. I am European. I learned what democracy is from her, from you, America. You saved us 75 years ago, from the worst of all nightmares.

I walk among the graveyards of Normandy, where a generation of young Americans and others from Allied Nations sacrificed the beauty and unfulfilled promise of their 20-year-old lives for ideas like freedom, unity, solidarity, and democracy. I feel the loss of you, a loss made even greater by what’s happening in America today — by a president who has destroyed so much, who had the nerve to call your brothers-in-arms “losers” and “suckers.”

What’s happening to you, dear sister? What’s happened to your care for the world, to your ability to listen to the voice of your own people? These were the things that made you great, truly great. This trust that your people have in the idea that America is the best possible example of a common destiny — and that you must lead by example. What has happened to that?

I long to feel close to you again. I am afraid these days. But I am also confident that one day I’ll find you have come back again, my great sister America. I am confident that these dark moments will be erased by the strength you’ve always shown in the toughest times, by your resistance and balance, qualities written in your DNA.

Today you seem unable to listen and to talk. You only scream and shout.
I hope that soon it will become only a bad memory.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty (Open Skies) so until they adhere, we will pull out.” — President Donald Trump told reporters outside the White House. CNN. May 21, 2020

“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state is so clearly not serving America’s interests.” — President Donald Trump to General Director of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom. May 21, 2020

“I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, D.C. now that everything is under perfect control. They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!” — President Donald Trump on Twitter, June 7, 2020

“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” — President Donald Trump on Twitter, May 31, 2020

“As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens. The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.” — President Donald Trump official speech on the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, White House Website

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…” — President Donald Trump on Twitter, January 7, 2019

November 1, 2001: The landscape of war, northern Afghanistan. © John Stanmeyer / VII.

Afghanistan: 1998–2012

Essay by Anthony Loyd and photos from the VII Archive

The fighter in the rocks with the gun in his hand had jail time in his memory, shrapnel scars in his gut, and said he was tired of killing but was ready to kill some more. A mid-level Taliban commander, whose war alias was Khalid Agha, he said that he was sure of victory, and there was no compromise in his narrative of impending triumph.

“We haven’t been shedding blood all these years with the intent of sharing power with the Kabul government,” he said, tapping his PK machine gun as dust devils whirled across the Afghan plain. He laughed too, though the noise sounded more like contempt than mirth. “We fight for sharia, for the Islamic Emirate, not to make deals with democrats in the time of our victory.”

Just nine days earlier, on February 29, 2020, the Americans had signed the Doha Agreement with the Taliban to lay down the conditions for a phased U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. As these images bear witness to, made by VII photographers across more than three decades, there was no shortage of reasons to end the war.

Afghans were exhausted by four decades of conflict and deserved the peace they craved. Over 100,000 civilians had been killed or wounded in the past decade alone. Understandable too was the U.S. wish to leave its longest ever conflict, which across 19 years had cost it more than 2,400 American lives and a total investment of up to $2 trillion, for so little obvious result.

Yet the Doha Agreement seemed flawed from its inception, a charade advertised as a peace deal yet likely to precipitate further violence. Essentially, the agreement acquiesced to the Taliban’s main demands, without giving anything concrete to the Afghan government. Women’s rights? Democracy? Human rights? They had no meaningful mention in Doha.

Gifted the narrative of victory over a superpower, in the wake of this accord the Taliban’s mood was boosted from one of dogged endurance into a belligerent triumphalism. The sons of men who had fought the Russians saw the Doha Agreement as little more than a fig leaf to allow the Americans to withdraw before the Taliban recommenced their fight to seize the country, much the same as their mujahideen forebears overthrew the Afghan communist government in 1992, three years after Soviet forces had withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“We have just defeated a superpower,” smirked Khalid Agha, his men gathered around him.

March 1998: An unidentified Afghan woman wearing a burka mourns the grave of a parent, a victim of the war at a cemetery in Kabul. © Franco Pagetti / VII.
March 2001: A group of armed Taliban in a jeep. Prior to every mission, Talibans receive training in one of the many different camps in the Afghan mountains. The training includes suicide attack education. © Franco Pagetti / VII.
(Left) March 1998: A group of Afghan women wearing ‘burqas’ walking in Kabul. During the Taliban’s regime, women’s rights were taken back to the Middle Ages. Before the Taliban reached power, women participated economically, socially, and politically in the life of their society. After the Taliban rose to power, women were discriminated against, marginalized, and excluded from access to education, health care facilities, and employment. (Right) March 2001: Three women with prosthetic devices are sitting on a bench outside the orthopedic center. The majority of patient amputees are victims of landmines. The center has been in operation in Kabul since 1988. © Franco Pagetti / VII.
March 2001: An Afghan family in their home warming their hands on live charcoal. The years of conflict in Afghanistan have weakened the population in Kabul leaving them needing assistance and medical support. Humanitarian associations try to help vulnerable children and their families by providing basic food like rice, oil, sugar, and chickpeas, and necessary items like blankets, heaters, and plastic sheeting. © Franco Pagetti / VII.
February 15, 2001: An Afghan family seen preparing the body of an 8-year-old boy who died from the cold at the Maslakh refugee camp near Herat, Afghanistan. The boy’s uncles place the body on a white sheet as family members look on. © Alexandra Boulat / VII.
April 2, 2001. Triptych and typographic wordpiece by Daniel Schwartz.
November 13, 2001: Northern Alliance soldiers show off Taliban prisoners-of-war on the Old Road to Kabul. © Ron Haviv / VII.
November 2001: Ghulam Ali, Parwan Province. Osama bin Laden on television before the fall of Kabul. The broadcasting of tapes claiming the survival of bin Laden emphasized the Coalition’s failure to capture him. Ironically the message was delivered via a medium, television, outlawed by the Taliban. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
November 1, 2001: Pedestrians and traffic move down a street in Kabul that is lined with the remains of houses and shops that were destroyed during successive years of civil war. © Gary Knight / VII.
November 13. 2001: Crowds gather to celebrate the sight of the first foreign journalists to arrive in Kabul shortly after the Taliban regime fled the capital. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
November 11, 2001: The first two women to register at Kabul University since 1995. © Gary Knight / VII.
November 2002: American troops from the 82nd Airborne on a mission searching for arms caches and remnants of the Taliban in the Kohe Safi Mountains. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
November 14, 2002: Cheerleaders from the Washington (D.C.) Redskins football team put on a show for U.S. soldiers based at the Bagram Air Base 40 miles outside of Kabul. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
Kabul, November 2002: Holding up an image of a woman confiscated by the Taliban, in the National Gallery. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
November 2002: (left) A homeless man sleeps on the streets of Kabul, under a wall painting depicting bombs and landmines. April 4, 2005: (right) Men make prosthetic limbs at the ICRC Orthopedic Centre in Kabul. All the men being treated there are either missing one or both legs due to landmines. Millions of landmines still litter Afghanistan after decades of war, killing and injuring thousands of Afghanis every year. © John Stanmeyer / VII.
April 2003: U.S. troops taking part in Operation Valiant Guardian in the village of Loy Kariz, near Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, on the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban. © Ed Kashi / VII.
April 24, 2003: U.S. troops on Operation Valiant Guardian in Afghanistan search the city while on the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Loy Kariz. © Ed Kashi / VII.
April 24, 2003: (left) A U.S. trooper searches a local Afghan man for weapons during Operation Valiant Guardian. (right) A member of the U.S. Armed Forces covers the head of an Afghan fighter who is being arrested in the village of Loy Kariz, near Spin Boldak. © Ed Kashi / VII.
November 2003: (left) A makeup class organized by Pangea, an Italian NGO, in Afghanistan. (right) Students take a sculpture course at a university in Afghanistan. © Stefano De Luigi / VII.
August 2004: After 25 years of war, Afghanistan has a reputed two million war widows. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
October 2004: View of a neighborhood with heavy war damage in Kabul. © Danny Wilcox Frazier / VII.
April 6, 2005: Specialist Adam Burk, 22, from Indiana, USA, waves to new members of the Afghanistan Army as they pass a depot which contains destroyed tanks, weapons, and planes from Afghanistan’s war with the Soviets as well as the Northern Alliance war against the Taliban. The history of war and fighting has long been a part of Afghan society. © John Stanmeyer / VII.
April 5, 2005: An Afghani police graduate demonstrates his skills at the headquarters of the Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA), where recruits are trained by Blackwater, a U.S. global security company. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
Spring 2006: A street carnival vendor swings children in a miniature Ferris wheel during a period of relative calm in Kabul. © Sara Terry / VII.
April 22, 2006: Burka-clad women walk down a Kabul street. Virtually all women in Kabul cover themselves in public — most with a burka, others with long headscarves. © Sara Terry / VII.

“I made this photo as part of a series of images taken while wearing a burka, trying to see the world from the point of view of a woman in Kabul. I used one of the earliest cellphone cameras made, pre-iPhone (the Sony Ericsson P910). I held it pressed between my eye and the tight-fitting screen of the burka and couldn’t see the image I’d made until after I’d taken it. The file size is 166 kb. I was repeatedly stopped by security police who could tell by the way I walked in the burka that I was a foreigner.”

October 10, 2006: (left) An Afghan boy is seen with a Minnie Mouse face mask in a local cemetery in Kabul. Afghan cemeteries are very basic: a single stone is used to mark the grave and very rarely is something engraved on it. (right) Afghan men exercise on the slopes of a hill surrounding the city. October 14, 2006: (right) A girl and woman are seen walking in downtown Kabul. After decades of war in Afghanistan, reconstruction in the country has slowly begun, though ongoing conflict continues to hinder the process. Despite the devastation and irregular water and electricity supply, Afghans struggle for a sense of normalcy. © Ziyah Gafic / VII.
October 9, 2006: (left) A man prays in front of the King’s tomb. The King’s tomb is located on a nearby hill overlooking Kabul. For hundreds of years, it served as a traditional burial place for Afghan royalty. Due to its strategic position, it has been one of the key places for artillery positioning. During the years of unrest and strife between different Mujahideen factions, following the fall of the Soviet-led government, it was heavily shelled and destroyed. October 12, 2006: (right) An Afghan boy sits on the edge of a swimming pool. Large swimming pools were built by Russians on one of the numerous hills overlooking Kabul. It was used as an artillery position against the Russians and during the combats between different Mujahideen factions. People come here in the afternoon to escape from the city dust and the terrible traffic. © Ziyah Gafic / VII.
July 21, 2006: A uniformed soldier guards the former presidential palace in Kabul. © Espen Rasmussen / VII.
April 2007: A bird fight on Friday morning behind a teahouse in the Old City of Kabul. The birds are small quail, called bodahna. The contest attracts heavy gambling but the fights are never to the death. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
June 2009: French soldiers from the 1st Infantry Regiment were in the Uzbin Valley for six months. They were directed to take the valley, a place where ten months ago a dozen French soldiers were killed. But while they were there, they never used their weapons; they never saw the Taliban. It was like fighting a ghost. There were attacks but they never knew where they came from… they never saw the enemy, which only intensified their fear. © Eric Bouvet / VII.
August 20, 2009: Security forces patrol the streets of Kabul on Thursday as Afghans headed to the polls for an anxiously awaited presidential election that Taliban fighters had vowed to disrupt. © Nichole Sobecki / VII.
August 20, 2009: Women line up to receive their ballot cards at a polling station in central Kabul. The election resulted in victory for the incumbent Hamid Karzai, who won 49.67% of the vote, while his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, finished second with 30.59% of the vote. © Nichole Sobecki / VII.
June 2009: People scramble for free bread being offered by a bakery beside a Shia Mosque. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
November 22, 2010: Marines and an Afghan National Army soldier carry an Afghan civilian wounded by insurgent gunfire on a stretcher to a waiting medevac helicopter in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. © Nichole Sobecki / VII.
November 30, 2010: A Marine wounded by an improvised explosive device is cared for in a medevac helicopter in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. © Nichole Sobecki / VII.
November 23, 2010: These images are from the series ‘Seeing in the Dark,’ shot during an embed with the medevac crew from Company C, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade at Camp Dwyer along the Helmand River Valley. I found that there was so little light on night missions that I was struggling to make pictures, and began experimenting with holding night-vision goggles up to the end of my lens. They’re strange, and otherworldly, and also the only images I shot while embedded that look the way I felt being there, and witnessing this (perhaps not) forever war. © Nichole Sobecki / VII.
February 20, 2012: A woman in a burka walks past a store that projects colored light beams in an underpass in Kabul. © Seamus Murphy / VII.
The tattoo of a young woman in Riohacha, Colombia, reads: “Looking for happiness and a promise of love.” When U.S. voters cast ballots on Nov. 3, it’s not just America’s future they’re voting for — they’re shaping the destinies of women they’ll never meet, whose bodies are politicized and whose rights are so often up for debate, and who have so much more to lose than an election.

No Choice

Essay by Jill Filipovic and photos by Nichole Sobecki

For hundreds of millions of women the world over, their safety, options, and opportunities hang in the balance of an election they don’t get to vote in.

The Trump administration has transformed America’s handling of international women’s rights, and its treatment of women themselves. For women fleeing extreme violence — a common “push” factor for women leaving Central America, where women are often the victims of domestic abuse, rape, and murder, and where police do little and sometimes participate — Trump’s America is not a safe haven. The administration’s cruel family separation policy ripped children from their parents, leaving some children and their mothers alike vulnerable to abuse behind bars. The president’s attorney general, William Barr, tried to remove domestic violence as grounds for asylum; Trump’s proposed new rules for asylum-seekers would end gender-based asylum claims, allow judges to refuse grants of asylum without a hearing, and make an already complicated system even more Byzantine.

One of the first things Trump did in office was reinstate, and then radically expand, what opponents call the Global Gag Rule. Under the rule, U.S. funds are cut from any organization abroad that provides abortions with its own non-U.S. money, refers women for safe abortion services, or advocates for safe, legal abortion. It doesn’t apply to U.S.-based institutions, because in America, it violates First Amendment free speech protections. Groups that provided family planning tools, HIV treatment, prenatal care, even malaria treatment and aid to orphans lost U.S. funding for engaging in work that is legal in their own countries, and would be legal in the United States. We don’t have hard numbers yet, but the Trump cuts have likely translated into millions of women losing access to contraception, which means that millions of them became pregnant when they didn’t want to be. Many have had children they can’t afford to feed. Many have had abortions, some safe and many not. Some have died.

While U.S. funds were being pulled from basic development work in some of the world’s most fragile places, the Trump administration was also undermining the ability of the international community to even discuss women’s health: After a UN Security Council meeting in 2019, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN announced that the U.S. would not accept the use of the term “sexual and reproductive health.” While abortion has long been controversial among UN member states, the objection to sexual and reproductive health — a widely-recognized need, not to mention a thing that simply exists — was a stunning and Orwellian change. The U.S. delegation to the UN has objected to basic women’s and LGBT rights at nearly every turn, often siding with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers to fight any advocacy for women and sexual minorities. One State Department report on global human rights took out all references to reproductive health and rights, and even removed statistics on maternal mortality.

American politics reach so wide they circle the globe. When U.S. voters cast our ballots on Nov. 3, it’s not just America’s future we’re voting for — we’re shaping the destinies of women we’ll never meet, whose bodies are politicized and whose rights are so often up for debate, and who have so much more to lose than an election.

Riohacha, Colombia, September 25, 2018: Silvana Hinestroza Mendoza, 43, holds her grandson as they nap in their home in Colombia. It’s been seven years since Silvana Hinestroza Mendoza first spoke publicly about being raped by members of a guerrilla group who kidnapped and tortured her when she was a young woman. More than 15,000 Colombian women and girls were raped or otherwise sexually abused during the country’s civil war; many remain too terrified or ashamed to tell anyone. Finally speaking the truth about what happened, Silvana said she feels good, even powerful — like a layer of shame peeled back with each telling. But each telling also means exposing painful scars, literal and metaphorical.
Thaingkhali Refugee Camp, Bangladesh, December 4, 2018: Omma Kulsum, 30, was taken from her family and raped by a group of men who she believes were members of the Burmese military. Her two oldest children, a girl and a boy, were killed by armed men who attacked their village in Myanmar. Although Kulsum was four months pregnant during the rape, some members of her community maintain that her baby, now almost a year old, was conceived by rape, which is heavily stigmatizing. Systematic rape was one component of a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Myanmarʼs Rohingya minority, more than a million of whom fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
Shamlapur Refugee Camp, Bangladesh, December 4, 2018: Nur, 9, looks up at her aunt in the home sheʼs made since fleeing Myanmar. One of Nur’s aunts was raped alongside her daughter by a group of men who she believes were members of the Burmese military, and they both became pregnant. After fleeing to Bangladesh and learning about their options, they both chose to have abortions.
Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh: (left) Miscarriages can be induced by inserting the roots of a local tree vaginally and securing with a piece of string. Honduras and Nicaragua: (right) The leaf of the hyptis verticillata plant is used to induce abortion in Central America.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras, April 18, 2019: Police patrol the streets of La Rivera Hernandez, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Honduras. The northern district of San Pedro Sula is home to nearly 230,000 people. Just 50 police officers watch over its 189 neighborhoods, and well-known gangs like 18th Street and MS-13 operate. Violence against women is endemic in Central America. The patriarchal culture that fuels violence, advocates say, is the same one that upholds some of the most extreme restrictions on reproductive rights in the world. All of this creates a climate in which many women see no option but to flee, risking their lives to travel to the United States.
Choloma, Honduras, April 11, 2019: Portrait of Ricsy (not her real name), 19, outside her home in one of the most dangerous cities for women in the world. Ricsy is not sure how old she was when her stepfather began raping her. “I remember he got there when I was 5, and then I turned 8, I turned 9, 10, 11, 13. I was 13, and then I had the baby.” Abortion wasn’t an option. Legally it was off the table, and Ricsy grew up hearing abortion was wrong. “I went to church and the pastor had said if we had an abortion, it’s like we are killing someone,” Ricsy said. A few months ago, Ricsy was raped by a stranger on her way to work at a shopping mall just a few blocks from her home, grabbed as she passed her son’s elementary school. Ricsy isn’t sure that she will ever escape her sadness, which is so deep that she sometimes finds herself curled in a ball underneath her son’s bed. But she may escape Honduras. Whatever hazards lurk along the way feel less daunting than life in Choloma. “My mom said the journey was very dangerous,” Ricsy says. “And I told her, ‘I know mom, but I can no longer continue to live here.’”
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, April 16, 2019: A drawing on the wall of a pregnant woman outside the bedroom of Alma (not her real name), 22. Abortion is a criminal offense in Honduras, which means a stillbirth or miscarriage can land you on the wrong side of the law — something Alma is learning right now. She has been charged with ending her pregnancy, although she says she didn’t even know she was pregnant before she had a stillbirth. Her case has been ongoing for two years. Feminist activists had been pushing for the government to decrease the penalties for abortion, which can be as high as ten years and apply to any woman who ends her pregnancy, including rape victims or women whose lives are at risk.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, April 14, 2019: Sofia (not her real name), 12, sits in the bedroom she shares her with family. Sofia is just weeks away from giving birth to a baby girl after being raped by a family member of her mom’s boyfriend. She still doesn’t totally understand what pregnancy means or what childbirth entails, but she knows the delivery is looming, and that scares her. She knows she doesn’t want to be a mother. “At first, she said that she did not want to have the baby,” Sofia’s mom says. Sofia also asked for an abortion. But in Honduras the procedure is outlawed entirely, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the pregnant woman (or in this case, girl). And so Sofia, her fully pregnant belly protruding in jarring juxtaposition to her diminutive preteen frame, is no longer able to go to school, and waits at home for her delivery date.
Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Uganda, June 5, 2019: Grace (not her real name), 17, seated with her 3-year-old daughter, and her 14-year-old sister, in the church where she sings. Grace fled to Uganda from Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been living in Kyangwali for the last three months. A group of armed men killed her parents and raped her outside her home in the DRC in an attack on their village. She eventually escaped and made her way to her uncle’s home, where she discovered she was pregnant with her daughter. She was scared to seek out an abortion because she thought she would die.
Uganda, June 3, 2019: A 15-year-old girl who was raped at school and impregnated traveled close to two hours to a clinic that would help her to safely complete an abortion. Despite the clear need — refugee women face among the highest levels of sexual violence in the world — abortion services are almost nonexistent in refugee camps. “Why don’t women raped in conflict have a right to abortion?” is a question that indicts some of the most powerful individuals and institutions, while zeroing in on the experiences of some of the world’s most marginalized people.
Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp, Uganda, May 31, 2019: Mary Desire (not her real name), 34, and her 2-year-old daughter in a field outside their home in the Bidi Bidi refugee camp. Mary got married at 12 and had six children with her husband before he was killed in the war in South Sudan. She fled South Sudan for Uganda with her children by way of the Democratic Republic of Congo and was raped along the way. She delivered her baby girl alone in the refugee settlement, and seven months into the girl’s life Mary learned that they both tested positive for HIV.
Bidi Bidi Settlement Camp, Uganda, June 1, 2019: A young girl’s dress dries on a line at the settlement.
A scene from a Wonder Woman movie in a cinema in Beijing, China, in 2017. As China’s cinema audience booms, Hollywood studios compete for a market share of the profits. But the Chinese government is aware of the cultural impact of Hollywood and does not want to promote a Western middle-class society.

Made in China

Photos and essay by Valentina Sinis

With China’s efforts to become the world’s economic superpower, the U.S.-China battle has been underway for years. Four years ago, Donald Trump came to power as a deal maker. He even claimed that trade wars are good and that he is the master of winning them. But in reality, he hasn’t won this battle; instead, the tension between the two superpowers is at its highest in years.

I’ve lived in China for the past 15 years. I watched the country and its youth move closer and closer to the West. For nearly half of that time, President Xi Jinping has talked about a Chinese Dream of global dominance, a return to the grandeur of past dynasties that inspires many Chinese. But from what I saw and experienced among Chinese millennials — particularly among the artists’ circles I was part of — the American Dream holds far more influence on young people than past and future visions of Chinese greatness.

As China and the U.S. move toward a new Cold War, I worry about them. I fear that Chinese millennials are trapped between two worlds — and that any wrong move could destroy their fragile dreams.

Chengdu, China, May 2017: A Chinese metal band performs at The Strawberry Music Festival in Chengdu, at the International Intangible Cultural Heritage Park. The festival is one of the country’s biggest outdoor music festivals for the past 10 years. The festival provides a music platform for many Chinese and Western pop and rock bands.
Chengdu, China, May 2017: A Chinese girl attends The Strawberry Music Festival, one of the country’s biggest outdoor music festivals in Chengdu. The Chinese government deploys a few hundred police forces to be present at this event. While the young audiences enjoy the event, they are aware of the officers around the site. China’s government believes that any imported cultural product should not disrupt Chinese social/political order and threaten the unity of the state.
Chengdu, China, July 2017: A female DJ performs at the marketing event for the Nissan Kicks car in Chengdu. Visitors of this marketing event could enjoy live music, Latin and Western food, tattoo sessions, etc. As the Chinese market is dramatically growing, there is a significant sign of demand for non-Chinese products such as cars, designer clothes, Western food, music, and movies. This is how China’s youth connect themselves to the outside world far from the Chinese version of life promoted by the state.
Hong Kong, October 2, 2017: Lily and Karl in their living room in Hong Kong. They own a small tattoo studio and express their inner feelings through their line of tattoos. Despite their passive role in politics, they consider themselves Hongkongers and being seen as Chinese is out of question. The future for many young Hongkongers like Lily and Karl is dependent upon the ongoing trade war between Beijing and Western states such as the UK and the United States. They may be the ones who will pay the price for these political/economic battles.
Twenty-eight-year-old Xiaolong (left) in the old district in a central area of Chengdu in 2018. Xiaolong is a full-time street performer and magician, whose life dream is to travel to the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, CA. To him, performing in front of American audiences is something meaningful that can open other doors for him. He believes the path of success goes through America. A deserted street of Chengdu (right) in 2019. It is the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan. It is one of several first-tier cities where many believe that the ambitious younger generation will be willing to live and build their careers.
January 2015: C.G. is a 25-year-old bride from the village of Koudian, Luoyang Henan, China. Despite the small size of this village, her wedding style has no connection to Chinese traditions. It looks just like a wedding taking place in any city in the U.S. Currently it is very common for young couples in China to choose a Western-style wedding, as they find it more modern and hip. On the other hand, there are also many Western couples traveling to China to marry in a traditional Chinese style.
Dalian, China, April 2018: The production room of the EXDOLL factory in Dalian in 2018. EXDOLL is a leading manufacturer of silicone sex dolls in China whose products go mostly to foreign markets including the U.S. Founded in 2013, EXDOLL produces around 5,000 TPE (modified thermoplastic elastomers material) and silicone dolls every year, priced from 300 to 3,000 USD. The company’s products account for about half of the 5,000 to 6,000 sex dolls sold annually in China. Currently, the company’s most popular model among Chinese customers is UT145, who, at 145 centimeters tall, has the proportions of a grown woman but the stature of the average 10-year-old Chinese girl. There are also full-size dolls with a similar weight to a real woman, male sex dolls, and 100-centimeter-tall “dream girl” dolls — popular due to their lighter weight.
January 2014: A blurred view of a brightly illuminated street in Chengdu. Chengdu is one of the 15 first-tier cities in China that attracts a very high percentage of startups, high-tech companies, and listed firms wrapped in lights and neon. The main characteristic of these first-tier cities is that they provide a variety of lifestyles and adaptability for the future.
An Iranian passport is a reminder of the numerous sad stories of Iranian people who failed to get visas to the U.S. In the early days of his presidency, President Donald Trump implemented a policy to tightly restrict immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries. The travel ban to the U.S. has affected the lives of thousands of Iranian families, whose visas to the U.S. have been refused since 2017.

Here Without You

Photos and essay by Forough Alaei

“My hopes for a new fantasy life, suddenly became a nightmare,” my friend said, while her eyes filled with tears. Maryam had married her classmate, an American citizen, and she planned to go with him to the U.S. after their wedding in Tehran. But the newlyweds’ plans ran smack into the travel ban imposed by Donald Trump as one of his first acts after taking office in 2017.

After hearing Maryam’s story, I began to look for the stories of other Iranians whose lives had become entangled with the political views of the new president of the United States. There are literally thousands of people in my country whose visa applications have been refused since the ban was imposed. Many are seeking waivers, a procedure which may take years, while they are separated from their loved ones.

They are families, ordinary citizens, whose lives have been turned upside down by Trump’s foreign policy. They include the baby girl who has been in the U.S. for medical treatment while her father still waits for a visa; the mother who sleeps on her son’s bed, just to remember his scent — something she has done since 2015, when he went to Boston to study mechanical engineering; the family of four who can only gather via Skype. There are so many more.

Note: The families included here were photographed and interviewed between 2018 and 2019; some of them have been granted U.S. visas recently. Names have been changed at their request.

They have a family of four. Farshad, the father, has been working as a businessman for 15 years outside of Iran. However, after his family immigrated to the U.S., he faced disruptions with his business and returned to Iran. He hasn’t seen his family since the last visit in 2015. Farshad supports his family financially by sending them money, and emotionally, by talking to them via Skype every night. However, his family wants him next to them. His 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son are always sad, as their lawyer said to me. In fact, the children are under severe mental pressure because they yearn for the love and support of their father.
Farshad and his wife’s bedroom has nothing in it now except beautiful memories. Farshad has been separated from his family since 2015.
Majid left his family in Iran in August 2015 to continue his studies in the United States. His visa was single-entry only. His parents tried to visit him but their visas were rejected in February 2018 due to the “travel ban.” Majid’s mother misses him so much that she continually prays for him and sleeps in his room. She said, “After he left Iran, I’ve slept in his room every night. I can smell him there and his memories are alive to me.”
Homayun is a lonely father who reviews the old photos of the family every day to keep their memories alive. “These (photos) are the only reminders of my life,” he says. Arenan, his daughter, is a 4-year-old girl who suffers from Niemann-Pick disease, an inherited, severe metabolic disorder. In order to receive special medical treatment, she moved to the United States in 2016 with her mother and sister. However, the youngest child has missed her father’s arms and did not know him when they were able to visit each other in May 2018. Homayun is like a shadow in her life. He is depressed and shows some symptoms of anxiety as well as suffering from a sleep disorder.
Homayun celebrates his daughter Arenan’s birthday far away. Arenan is a 4-year-old girl who suffers from Niemann-Pick disease, an inherited, severe metabolic disorder. The travel ban has made his family’s life very complicated and severe, both economically and spiritually.
Old memories were the only happiness in Behzad’s life; he collected photos of his family and dreamed of the loving life before the unintended separation. Behzad had not lived with his wife and little boy for nearly five years. His family immigrated to the U.S., while he waited for a visa after two interviews. Behzad is a doctor and was really concerned about the mental and behavioral issues from which his son has suffered.
Behzad’s son Parsa stayed in Iran for the summer with his father. Behzad had not been living with his family for nearly five years. His wife and son immigrated to the U.S. a few years ago, while he had been waiting for a visa. “I cannot plan for my future, my son doesn’t talk to me and he even denies looking at me,” Behzad said.
Behzad’s son Parsa waits in the airport for this flight to the U.S. Parsa seemed to blame his father for their separation and could not understand the travel ban or the issues with the visa.

(Behzad got his visa in early 2020 and is now living with his family again.)

An abandoned tower of one of the main offshore companies that provided services to Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, is evidence of the collapse of the formerly robust oil economy in the city of Macaé, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which was once considered Brazil’s oil capital.

To Break the Ties

Photos and essay by Leonardo Carrato

Things were going well in Macaé. A small Brazilian city along the Atlantic Ocean, oil was discovered here in 1974, bringing with it rapid economic development and urbanization — and the national oil company Petrobras, which made its headquarters here. Over the next 30 years, Macaé became Brazil’s national oil capital, and while development was messy and unequal, the gleam of prosperity didn’t dim.

Then, in 2014, Macaé came face to face with a two-headed monster: the plummeting of global oil prices, and Operation Car Wash. The embezzlement investigation into Petrobras spanned the country, but its epicenter was Macaé, reducing the city to survival mode. The investigation rocked Brazil’s political and business establishment, leading to the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — a move that barred him from reelection and paved the way for a win for far-right Jair Bolsonaro. A feeling of decay and abandonment took over Macaé.

The operation was hardly a Brazilian-only affair though. A trove of leaked documents — co-analyzed by The Intercept and the Brazilian investigative news outlet Agência Pública — reveal that Operation Car Wash was a secretive collaboration between the Brazilians and the U.S. Department of Justice that may have violated international legal treaties and Brazilian law. The documents also reveal clear misconduct and political bias by the judge and prosecutors who handled the case against Lula, and critics have argued that the U.S. had undue influence here.

For many Brazilians, it’s yet another dark reminder of the U.S.’s history of intervention in Latin American politics, particularly in light of the close relationship between Bolsonaro and Trump. For those left in Macaé, all that remains is a grim reality, and the last, fading vestige of hope.

July 30, 2020: The city of Macaé, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, underwent rapid and poorly planned urban growth. The city’s architecture contrasts large, modern buildings with small, old houses that recall the period before big oil ruled the city. During the time of the city’s rapid economic development, brought about by the discovery of oil exploration fields, high-rise towers were built quickly for the installation of companies or residential condominiums.
Partially built and abandoned buildings have become a common scenario in the city of Macaé. Currently, with the crisis caused by the fall of oil prices and the cases of corruption involving local companies, the real estate sector has practically stopped most local urban development.
A neglected leisure area (left) in the largest local park in the city of Macaé. The park is completely abandoned and symbolizes the city’s decay after the fall of the oil market and cases of corruption involving local companies were revealed. (right) A mattress where a homeless citizen sleeps in Macaé reveals the decay plaguing the city. The serious economic and social crisis experienced by the city is also felt by the increase in the number of cases of homeless people in the region.
The headquarters of the national oil company, Petrobrás, in the city of Macaé. With the fall in the oil market and cases of corruption, the company has been suffering a massive loss of assets and threats of privatization by the new government.
A uniform, commonly worn by workers on offshore oil exploration platforms, hangs from a cabinet in Macaé. The clothing represented the pride of working in the oil business, but today it is hanging unused in the closet. It is a reminder of the unemployment that plagues the city, once considered the national oil capital.
(Left) Beto holds his dog in one of the main squares in the city of Macaé. Forty years ago, Beto left his hometown and came to Macaé in search of jobs and prosperity after the discovery of numerous oil fields in the region. He is currently unemployed and comes to the square daily to meet with other oil workers, many of whom are on the street, homeless, and are looking to resume their jobs. (Right) This monument was intended to reflect the pride of the city when it was the national oil capital of Brazil. Located at the entrance to the city, the monument is now a meeting point for residents who are looking for jobs. Many come here hoping to find a truck that offers loading and unloading work.
(Left) At the window of his house, Edmilson reveals how he is coping with the serious crisis faced by the city of Macaé. In the 2000s, he left everything and came to Macaé in search of a better life. A former butcher, he was seduced away by the promise of prosperity and a good life. After the fall of the oil market and cases of corruption involving local companies, Edmilson lost his job and now survives through the help of close friends. He reports that he has already gone through serious psychological problems and today considers returning to his city and reuniting with his family. (Right) In the main square, Marciolínio awaits the arrival of other colleagues for their daily meeting. He says that he comes to the square every day in search of work. This is the meeting point for a group of tankers who are unemployed and hoping for a place in the job market. Marciolínio, also known as Mestre, is another case of those who left everything behind and came to Macaé to pursue the promise of prosperity in the former national oil capital.
A cart and horse are used to collect debris from one of the abandoned buildings in the city center of Macaé. After the fall of the oil market, and cases of corruption involving the largest national oil company, the city has faced a massive outflow of companies and the social consequences intrinsic to the sudden flight of capital. Many of the city’s residents are forced to work informally as a way of earning at least a basic income.
At the Bunker Bar, just outside of the massive Turkish Incirlik Airbase near Adana, Turkey, a local Turkish man shows off his money. The “alley” is a strip filled with bars, restaurants, and trinket shops to attract U.S. military personnel. This airbase hosts as many as 5,000 U.S. forces and military equipment including nuclear warheads. October 2002. © Ed Kashi / VII.

The Mighty Dollar

Essay by Nichole Sobecki and photos from the VII Archive

The 1950s in America was a decade of suburbia and segregation, the Chevrolet and Mad Men advertising — and the rise of the U.S. dollar as the world’s dominant currency. That America’s role as the sole financial superpower has endured for the past 70 years is remarkable, especially considering that the U.S. economy declined from nearly 40 percent of world GDP in 1960 to just 25 percent today. It’s also given America astonishing, and at times terrifying, power over other countries’ destinies. The images here, made by VII photographers, illuminate the implications of this often misused influence from the symbolic (and waist-expanding) association of fast food with success, the ubiquitous presence of Hollywood and Bieber, the way our national pastime of baseball has championed the values of the American dream abroad, and the high cost to Africa of well-intentioned used clothing donations. And still, the dollar endures. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, there was a record-breaking rush to get dollars, and the U.S. Federal Reserve has been sending billions to banks the world over in a process known as “swap lines” that help stabilize the global economy, and boost America’s financial hegemony. But the images also point to ways in which the dollar’s status will be tested by the rise of China, and President Donald Trump’s heedless use of financial warfare. Abroad, U.S. rivals and allies alike are looking for ways to liberate themselves from the mighty greenback. What would that world be like, and how would it change Americans’ place in it?

Hollywood, California, February 2004: A Japanese TV presenter reverentially holds an Oscar to the camera on the red carpet during the final preparations for the ceremony on the morning before the Oscar’s main event. © Jocelyn Bain Hogg / VII.
Hollywood, California, February 29, 2004. Donald Trump and Melania arrive at the post-Oscar InStyle magazine party. © Jocelyn Bain Hogg / VII.
Accra, Ghana, July 2017: (clockwise from top left) Men sell sunglasses on the Oxford Street shopping strip outside the Osu branch of KFC. Since 2015, the fast-food giant has opened multiple restaurants in the city and beyond to meet Ghana’s rising demand for Western-style fast food. People outside a new KFC outlet in Accra. A woman sells doughnuts outside a KFC outlet in Dansoman, Ghana. The outlet serves 7,000 people a week, including 4,200 through their drive-through. Men load freshly imported soap outside a KFC outlet in the Tema Harbour area, outside of Accra. © Ashley Gilbertson / VII.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 17, 2010: Sandy Alderson, known as “The Sheriff,” in his office in Santo Domingo. Major League Baseball sent Alderson to the Dominican Republic to oversee the academy programs. © Christopher Morris / VII.
Hollywood, Florida, August 29, 2019: At the Midtown Manor Assisted Living Facility, 30 employees care for 100 residents of all ages and for all reasons. Caregiver Sherly Aguilar makes beds and visits with some of her favorite residents. She has worked there for seven years and is from Nicaragua, a legal immigrant who studied care-giving after arriving in the U.S. She feels you cannot do this job without heart. Miami, Florida, March 7, 2012: (right) Actress Adriana Fonseca studies her lines as the director and floor manager check for the next scene of Telemundo’s new telenovela CORAZON VALIENTE filmed at the posh Coltorti Boutique. As Hispanic audiences in the U.S. continue to grow, more and more telenovelas are being made in Miami, making it the new Latin Hollywood or Hispanic Tinseltown. © Maggie Steber / VII.
Seoul, South Korea, January 31, 2012: A woman uses hand gestures to change the wallpaper in an exhibition of future technology at the South Korean T.UM future museum. © Tomas van Houtryve / VII.
Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland, April 8, 2011: Fans cheer and cry as Justin Bieber performs during a concert. © Joachim Ladefoged / VII.
Havana, Cuba, August 2006: (left) The U.S. Interests Section displays part of a message reading “Cuban People.” (right) People buy bread in a bakery in Havana. © Tomas van Houtryve / VII.
Northern Iraq, 1991: An American soldier offers a young Kurdish girl a Barbie doll. Without the Allied presence in Iraq, Kurdish autonomy would have been crushed by Saddam Hussein’s military. © Ed Kashi / VII.
Sierra Leone, March 2018: The American dollar moves in mysterious ways. Take t-shirts. It’s estimated that the average American owns 27 t-shirts, their own piece of a global business that yields sales of two billion t-shirts a year. A lot of them are promotional t-shirts with slogans and logos. A lot of them wind up donated to thrift shops or charities. And a lot of those donated shirts wind up being bundled and sold by the pound as bulk used clothing — packed up in container ships and sent overseas. The U.S. exports over a billion pounds of used clothing every year — and much of that cargo winds up in used clothing markets in sub-Saharan Africa, where they’re sold for a couple of dollars. But the cheap clothes come at a high price. Economists have blamed the international used clothing trade for the decline of labor—intensive local clothing industries in many parts of Africa — leading to the loss of jobs and negatively affecting many countries’ balance of payments. © Sara Terry / VII.
Kabul, Afghanistan, February 2012: Weathered paint marks a container. © Seamus Murphy / VII.

About “America, Again”

Exactly one year before voters go to the polls on November 3, 2020 — and three months before Iowans gather for their caucuses — VII launched the first chapter of our year-long collective election coverage, “America, Again.”

This project emerged among a few of the VII photographers with the intention of focusing attention on the issues that will dominate the U.S. election. The VII Foundation and VII Academy have stepped in to support the project in recognition of the importance of critical and independent storytelling in civic discourse. We will produce stories on material issues that people worldwide are wrangling with, not only Americans. We’ll cover issues that are used to divide us, and that allow populist politicians to undermine the values that are foundational to our societies.


Introduction by SUZY HANSEN, a journalist based in Istanbul and New York. Her first book Notes on a Foreign Country was a Finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, and the winner of the Overseas Press Club’s Cornelius Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book on International Affairs.

Essay by ANTHONY LOYD, English journalist and noted war correspondent. He began reporting for The Times during the Bosnian War in 1993 and since then he has reported from a series of major conflict zones, including those in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Essay by JILL FILIPOVIC, a Brooklyn-based journalist and author of OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind and The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness. She is also a weekly columnist for CNN and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.

Photo editing by SARAH LEEN, former Director of Photography National Geographic Partners and founder of the Visual Thinking Collective for independent women editors, teachers, and curators.

VII is a collective of 29 visual storytellers dedicated to reporting on issues around the world.

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