Pulitzer Center Update

2017: A Year in Photos

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2017: Year in Photos.

2017: Year in Photos.

The refugee crisis in Europe, the children of Boko Haram, and widows living in India: these are just a few of the topics documented by our journalist grantees this year. To wrap up 2017, each of our staff members chose their favorite image from over 150 projects. Take a look at our selections below. 

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Fannami was a 13-year-old fisherman when he was captured by Boko Haram. Image by Glenna Gordon. Nigeria, 2017.

Fannami was a 13-year-old fisherman when he was captured by Boko Haram. Image by Glenna Gordon. Nigeria, 2017.

Jon Sawyer, Executive Director
"As I read Sarah Topol’s harrowing account in The New York Times Magazine of boy soldiers abducted into Nigeria’s Boko Haram I kept returning to the lead image by photographer Glenna Gordon: a two-page spread showing just the nose, lips and chin of an unnamed boy, his face resting on a curved hand. The image conveys the ongoing burden of an unspeakably brutal experience—without betraying or exploiting the boys themselves."

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Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?” Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?” Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Nathalie Applewhite, Managing Director
"There is something completely surreal about this image by Max Pinckers from the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School in North Korea. On one hand the students look like school children anywhere...except for the absolute rigid order and symmetry–and the separation between them. Pinckers captured both the curiosity and fear in their eyes so it comes as no surprise that, during the visit, one boy asked, 'Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?' Pinckers’ series is the perfect companion to Evan Osnos’ piece, both featured in The New Yorker this fall, after they gained unique access inside the hermetic kingdom we hear so much about, yet about which we understand so little. Together they provide a candid, rare, and unexpected view from inside a country where, as Osnos has noted, their questions reveal far more than their answers."

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Milad photographed a meal of vegetables and rice that he and other migrants were given at their shelter in Dusseldorf. He drew in the bread and Coca-Cola he wished he had. He told Markosian he misses his mother’s cooking. Image by Milad Akhabyar. Germany, 2017.

Milad photographed a meal of vegetables and rice that he and other migrants were given at their shelter in Dusseldorf. He drew in the bread and Coca-Cola he wished he had. He told Markosian he misses his mother’s cooking. Image by Milad Akhabyar. Germany, 2017.

Eslah Attar, Intern
"When children are caught in the middle of war, they are robbed from their childhood and forced to grow up all too soon. Milad is a 14-year-old Afgan refugee who is now split between two worlds–his past home in Ghanzi, Afghanistan, and his uncertain future in Dusseldorf, Germany. As Milad tries to move forward with his new life, memories of the life he once knew plague his thoughts. 'A Postcard Home' is a collaboration between photojournalist Diana Markosian and Milad. Together, they share what the reality of war and refuge look like for many displaced children–whether it be experiencing a new culture, celebrating a different holiday or eating new foods."

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An Ethiopian worker fills boxes with shoes from the Huajian assembly line. Many of the shoes manufactured here are sold in the United States. Image by Noah Fowler. Ethiopia, 2017.

An Ethiopian worker fills boxes with shoes from the Huajian assembly line. Many of the shoes manufactured here are sold in the United States. Image by Noah Fowler. Ethiopia, 2017.

Jeff Barrus, Communications Director
"Africa has long been a target for colonial powers seeking to extract its resources and exploit its people. The great untold story of 2017 is how China, the world’s rising superpower, is the latest outside civilization to colonize the continent. Noah Fowler’s photographs for the Los Angeles Times show how Ethiopia is being leveraged as a source of cheap labor for a country whose standard of living has risen too high to keep prices low, and how China’s 'investment' is leading to rapid cultural changes. The stamp 'Made in Ethiopia' on American-branded shoes may suggest growing economic development, but it hides the truth—that Ethiopia is the latest stop in globalization’s endless hunt for cheap labor."

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Abraham, 6, and Acili, 4, help their mother Debola Kunda to crush and carry stones. The levels of toxic lead are extreme but she said: ‘We know about that but what can we do when there are no others at home to take care of the children? How will we eat if we stay at home.’ Image by Larry C. Price. Zambia, 2017.

Abraham, 6, and Acili, 4, help their mother Debola Kunda to crush and carry stones. The levels of toxic lead are extreme but she said: ‘We know about that but what can we do when there are no others at home to take care of the children? How will we eat if we stay at home.’ Image by Larry C. Price. Zambia, 2017.

Jeff Bartholet, Senior Editor
"Squint a bit, bend the imagination, and these two kids could be dragging bats and mitts home from a losing effort on the ballfield. But they have no bats and mitts, and the dejected looks on their faces reflect not a losing game, but a contaminated childhood. Photographer Larry Price documented the lives of people like Abraham, 6, and Acili, 4, as part of a project on the people of Kabwe, Zambia, considered the world's most toxic town. Men in Kabwe scavenge rocks from the lead slag and tailings of a long-abandoned mine; women and children collect and crush rocks to sell as gravel. Measurements of lead in the blood of 246 children of Kabwe showed all tested above safe levels—and most were more than nine times higher."

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Wearing a mask and gloves to protect fragile documents, an archivist opens one of the thousands of books of photographs held by the Historical Archives of the National Police. The Guatemalans pictured inside were all detained or arrested by the National Police during the country’s long civil war. Many of their fates remain unknown. Sometimes, visitors to the archive—or the archivists themselves—will turn a page and recognize a friend or relative not seen in decades. Image by Lynn Johnson. Guatemala, 2017.

Wearing a mask and gloves to protect fragile documents, an archivist opens one of the thousands of books of photographs held by the Historical Archives of the National Police. The Guatemalans pictured inside were all detained or arrested by the National Police during the country’s long civil war. Many of their fates remain unknown. Sometimes, visitors to the archive—or the archivists themselves—will turn a page and recognize a friend or relative not seen in decades. Image by Lynn Johnson. Guatemala, 2017.

Hannah Berk, Education Coordinator
"Lynn Johnson's photo captures an archivist at work in Guatemala's Historical Archives of the National Police (AHPN), tasked with cataloging, preserving, and analyzing evidence of forced disappearances and other atrocities committed during the 36-year civil war. This story is not new. The war came to a formal end in 1996 and this archive has been in operation since 2005. Like AHPN director Gustavo Meoño calls the archive itself, however, journalism can be 'a place of conscience.' The traumas, legacy, and even legal proceedings of the civil war live on, and this story from Johnson and Michelle Nijhuis is a reminder of how training a journalistic eye on history and its present-day ramifications can uphold accountability and preserve memory beyond the news cycle."

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Jian Wei, 38, in front of a large tank containing blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) in his shop at the Shilihe pet market in Beijing. Jian sells three to five individuals each month for approximately 4,000RMB ($600). The species is native to the coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region and is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN red list due to overfishing. Jian orders his online from the Philippines and Indonesia with most being sent to China by air freight. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2017.

Jian Wei, 38, in front of a large tank containing blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) in his shop at the Shilihe pet market in Beijing. Jian sells three to five individuals each month for approximately 4,000RMB ($600). The species is native to the coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region and is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN red list due to overfishing. Jian orders his online from the Philippines and Indonesia with most being sent to China by air freight. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2017.

Jin Ding, Marketing Coordinator
"Ever since I went abroad, I couldn’t count how many times I had to explain to someone that the new generation in China are not so into eating shark fins. But apparently, from Sean Gallagher’s reporting, now the new trend is to get sharks as pets in my home country. Why can’t we leave those wild species alone, my fellow Chinese? Not only off your dinner table, but also not in your fish tank."

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Cuban migrants stranded in Panama talk to journalists at the camp where they are housed in Gualaca in the western province of Chiriquí. Image by José A. Iglesias. Panama, 2017.

Cuban migrants stranded in Panama talk to journalists at the camp where they are housed in Gualaca in the western province of Chiriquí. Image by José A. Iglesias. Panama, 2017.

Katherine Doyle, Associate Editor
"The abrupt end in January 2017 of the Cuban Adjustment Act, also known as 'wet foot, dry foot,' marked a turning point in the journeys of Cuban migrants to the U.S. For decades, this policy had granted Cubans who reached the U.S. permission to stay and pursue expedited citizenship. For thousands of Cuban migrants living and working informally in Latin America, hoping to one day gain entry to the United States, this announcement would change their lives irrevocably."

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Children clean their shoes for school in the orange glow of a street light on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 in the village of Adjuma Kondre. It will take Alcoa years to repair thousands of acres of mined land around the village. Image by Stephanie Strasburg. Suriname, 2017.

Children clean their shoes for school in the orange glow of a street light on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 in the village of Adjuma Kondre. It will take Alcoa years to repair thousands of acres of mined land around the village. Image by Stephanie Strasburg. Suriname, 2017.

Tom Hundley, Senior Editor
"Pittsburgh-based Alcoa spent the better part of the 20th century extracting profit from Suriname’s seemingly endless supply of bauxite. But now the mines are exhausted and Alcoa is pulling out, dealing a major blow to one of South America's most fragile economies and leaving behind an environmental catastrophe. Strip mining for bauxite tends to turn the natural environment an unnatural and garish shade of burnt orange—orange lakes and streams, orange foliage, orange villages. Stephanie Strasburg’s image of children cleaning their shoes for school in the orange glow of a street light is a glimpse into the future as multinational mining conglomerates, mainly from Canada, China, the U.S. and Australia, continue to expand aggressively into the developing countries of Africa and South America where environmental laws are either non-existent, unenforced or easily circumvented."

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The exuberance of Holi, the holiday that includes flinging colored powders, was until recently thought inappropriate for widows. Aid groups, defying traditional prejudices against widows, now invite them to join celebrations like this Holi party in Vrindavan. Image by Amy Toensing. India, 2016.

The exuberance of Holi, the holiday that includes flinging colored powders, was until recently thought inappropriate for widows. Aid groups, defying traditional prejudices against widows, now invite them to join celebrations like this Holi party in Vrindavan. Image by Amy Toensing. India, 2016.

Rebecca Kaplan, Education Specialist, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow
"Indian widows defy social stigma by celebrating Holi. This is part of a larger effort by women, aid groups, and activists in India and other countries to combat laws and customs that turn women into pariahs after their husbands die."

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A woman named Elizabeth at the U.N. base in Bentiu, South Sudan. She fled recent fighting in Leer County. Image by Cassandra Vinograd. South Sudan, 2016.

A woman named Elizabeth at the U.N. base in Bentiu, South Sudan. She fled recent fighting in Leer County. Image by Cassandra Vinograd. South Sudan, 2016.

Fareed Mostoufi, Senior Education Manager
"Cassandra Vinograd’s image of Elizabeth, a South Sudanese woman who gazes at the camera from a UN base after fleeing fighting in her community, is one of those images I just can’t shake. There is so much feeling trapped behind that gaze. I wonder what she’s thinking, what she has seen and what she wants the world to know about how war has touched her life. While traveling with Vinograd to DC schools last spring, I learned that the crisis in South Sudan has led to unspeakable violence, entirely avoidable famine and a growing threat of hopelessness. The students and I also worked with Vinograd to understand how this conflict directly connects to our lives and our country’s history. We are forever changed by that experience and her work."

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Runaway migrant workers shared a meal inside the kitchen of the shelter. Image by Xyza Bacani. Singapore, 2016.

Runaway migrant workers shared a meal inside the kitchen of the shelter. Image by Xyza Bacani. Singapore, 2016.

Karen Oliver, Office Manager
"As my friends gather with extended families this winter to celebrate their important holidays, many will post photos on social media of crowded tables that will look like this shot by Xyza Bacani. This image isn’t a holiday celebration—these women are in a shelter in Singapore for migrant workers who have run away from their employers, and are far from their families. As the daughter of a migrant worker and a migrant worker herself, Bacani devoted more than three years documenting the lives of illegally trafficked workers in Hong Kong, New York and Singapore. The images she captured and the stories she reports are amazing."

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Adji. Image by Nichole Sobecki. Niger, 2017.

Adji. Image by Nichole Sobecki. Niger, 2017.

Ann Peters, University and Community Outreach Director
"Smugglers. Refugees. Bandits. Soldiers. Migrants. Nameless and faceless categories. Nichole Sobecki’s portraits from Niger change that. She shares brief vignettes about Adji, Moussa, Ali and others – similar to the photos by other journalists we support covering the stories of refugees named Taimaa, Iyman and Ghazweh. When we know their names, their stories draw us closer: Take Adji. He’s 32. He’d been driving migrants to Libya for nearly 15 years. It nearly cost him his life a year ago. He left that work for the sake of his wife and children, he says. I wonder whether he’s found new work, a career. Or whether the pull of even higher profits these days may draw him back to the smugglers’ world."

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The FPRC in Ndele, Central African Republic, uses two crumbling buildings as the base for their soldiers. Image by Cassandra Vinograd. Central African Republic, 2017.

The FPRC in Ndele, Central African Republic, uses two crumbling buildings as the base for their soldiers. Image by Cassandra Vinograd. Central African Republic, 2017.

Kamran Rahman, Intern
"This photo has the curious ability to spark a dialogue between subject and viewer. The men’s presence is undeniable—so much so that it almost feels awkward to be around them without saying anything."

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Sweet Love, a transgender woman and the chairperson of Children of the Sun, poses for a portrait with a necklace from her boyfriend. She sits at the Children of the Sun safe house, which shelters at-risk and in-need LGBTQ+ persons. Image by Jake Naughton. Uganda, 2017.

Sweet Love, a transgender woman and the chairperson of Children of the Sun, poses for a portrait with a necklace from her boyfriend. She sits at the Children of the Sun safe house, which shelters at-risk and in-need LGBTQ+ persons. Image by Jake Naughton. Uganda, 2017.

Jordan Roth, Multimedia Producer
"Details are incredibly important in any story, but especially when the safety of the subjects is at risk. In Jake Naughton's project, An Uneasy Situation for LGBT Ugandans, he does an incredible job of telling a story visually with this in mind. I found this image striking. It's beautiful, simple, and to the point."

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Flood lights from the U.S. side of the border illuminate a house in Otay Canyon (Cañon de Otay) that rests up against the border wall. In one of the strange quirks of topography along the border, the wall occasionally meanders into the United States, allowing Mexican families to have gardens that are actually in the United States. Image by James Whitlow Delano. Mexico, 2017.

Flood lights from the U.S. side of the border illuminate a house in Otay Canyon (Cañon de Otay) that rests up against the border wall. In one of the strange quirks of topography along the border, the wall occasionally meanders into the United States, allowing Mexican families to have gardens that are actually in the United States. Image by James Whitlow Delano. Mexico, 2017.

Steve Sapienza, Senior Producer
"The border wall. Mexicans call it El Muro de Verguenza, The Wall of Shame. James Whitlow Delano’s approach to this controversial topic is original, revealing, and humanizing.  How much do we know about the those on the other side of the wall?  Who are they? Why do they live there? James Whitlow Delano has worked for three decades to seek them out and listen to the stories to have tell us.  This epic and reflective body of documentary photo work builds understanding amid the caustic calls to 'build the wall.'"

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Lung Ki explores Thong Lor cave as he did when he was a child and teenager—through the light of a torch. Image by Erin McGoff. Laos, 2017.

Lung Ki explores Thong Lor cave as he did when he was a child and teenager—through the light of a torch. Image by Erin McGoff. Laos, 2017.

Kem Knapp Sawyer, Contributing Editor
"Lung Ki explores the Thong Lor cave In Laos. The cave, now home to bats and butterflies, provided refuge to Lung Ki and other Laotian families during the Vietnam War, at a time when the U.S. dropped 270 million bombs on the country. Lung Ki will be featured in American University student fellow Erin McGoff's film “This Little Land of Mines” about the 80 million unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos. As Erin reports, the UXO continue to kill and maim innocent civilians—40 percent of victims are children. Lung Ki’s piercing eyes and weathered face, illuminated by his torch, speak to the pain he has endured over the last over the last 50 years—and to the U.S. legacy."

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Roughly 50,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Ar Ramtha, Jordan, just across Syria's border. Image by Neil Brandvold. Jordan, 2017.

Roughly 50,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Ar Ramtha, Jordan, just across Syria's border. Image by Neil Brandvold. Jordan, 2017.

Mark Schulte, Education Director
"Neil Brandvold’s image of the Jordanian border town of Ar Ramtha at sunset has a ramshackle urban beauty. As with much crisis photography, the appeal of the photograph conceals an underlying unease, the tension of tens of thousands of refugees looking out to the horizon just as the three kids and the motorcyclist in the frame do, wondering what tomorrow brings."

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A family returns by canoe from cutting firewood in Attawapiskat, Ontario, in preparation for the cold, long winter ahead. Attawapiskat is an isolated First Nation community located in northern Ontario, Canada, at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River on James Bay. In 2016, the community of approximately 2,000 people declared a state of emergency after being overwhelmed with attempted suicides, over 100 attempts in a 10-month period. Image by David Maurice Smith/Oculi. Canada, 2016.

A family returns by canoe from cutting firewood in Attawapiskat, Ontario, in preparation for the cold, long winter ahead. Attawapiskat is an isolated First Nation community located in northern Ontario, Canada, at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River on James Bay. In 2016, the community of approximately 2,000 people declared a state of emergency after being overwhelmed with attempted suicides, over 100 attempts in a 10-month period. Image by David Maurice Smith/Oculi. Canada, 2016.

Kayla Sharpe, Campus Consortium Coordinator
"Over one hundred suicide attempts in an indigenous Canadian town sparked brief but important conversations about the social issues affecting the Attawapiskat Nation. As our society struggles to reconcile itself with the theft, genocide, and assimilation that was wrought against indigenous populations in the Americas, documentary photographer David Maurice Smith, paints a picture of a people whose history of intergenerational trauma is often as overlooked as it is lasting. Smith captures Canada's natural beauty in a way that suggests both isolation and healing while also focusing on the vibrant community that is forged through its strong culture, traditions, and hope for the future."

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Families are known to put crosses on the wall bearing the names of loved ones who died attempting to cross the border. Image by James Whitlow Delano. Mexico, 2017.

Families are known to put crosses on the wall bearing the names of loved ones who died attempting to cross the border. Image by James Whitlow Delano. Mexico, 2017.

Joan Woods, Capital Campaign Director
"Tear down the walls!! This is a visual reminder for me about the walls that divide us. This one just happens to be on the U.S./Mexico border."