Kurdistan was erased from world maps after World War I, when the
victorious powers carved up the Middle East, leaving the Kurds without
a homeland. Today the Kurds, who live on land that straddles the
borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, are by far the largest
ethnic group in the world without a state.
Renowned photographer Susan Meiselas entered northern Iraq after the
1991 Gulf War to record the effects of Saddam Hussein’s campaigns
against Iraq’s Kurdish population. She joined Human Rights Watch in
documenting the destruction of Kurdish villages (some of which Hussein
had attacked with chemical weapons in 1988) and the uncovering of mass
graves. Moved by her experiences there, Meiselas began work on a
visual history of the Kurds. The result, Kurdistan: In the Shadow of
History, gives form to the collective memory of the Kurds and creates
from scattered fragments a vital national archive.
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