Ынтымак - Yntymak: meaning harmony, friendship, or accord in both Kyrgyz and Uzbek languages.
Little is known by the general population of the west about Kyrgyzstan and many of the other Central Asian states. Some know of Manas Airbase, the major gateway for American troops on their way to Afghanistan, which is located in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Osh is the unofficial southern capital of Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country that lies between China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. As a city, Osh is nearly 3,000 years old and has been a key transit point on the historical silk road. While historical narratives differ depending on who you speak with, the city was at one point predominantly populated by people of Uzbek ethnicity. Communities existed in Mahallas, which are traditionally one story homes that feature an open-air inner courtyard. During Soviet times, large multistory apartments were built and more ethnic Kyrgyz moved into the city. While the concentration of Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan on a national level is low (~14%), Uzbeks account for roughly half the population of Osh. Osh is important because it lies on the border with Uzbekistan and is a major financial hub of southern Kyrgyzstan and trade flows from Karasuu through Osh to the greater south of the country.
Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Uighurs, Dungans, and other groups coexisted in Central Asia for thousands of years, prior to the drawing of ethnic based national boundaries in 20th century. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the emergence of national identities has created differing historical narratives and has created a nationalistic Kyrgyz identity among many. Ethnicity is a very sensitive and often taboo topic in many of the Post Soviet Central Asian states--where state names emphasize ethnic ownership and state boundaries were drawn with little regard to local histories. Particularly in Kyrgyzstan, ethnicity has proven a determining factor in many local conflicts. In 1990, there was a week of intense violence between ethnic groups as a result of land disputes.
Over the past 20 years, the two major ethnic groups of Osh, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, had reached a peaceful coexistence. Although the traditional sedentary lifestyle of Uzbeks led to a greater presence in local markets, one could often see mixed groups of Kyrgyz and Uzbek men walking in the streets. Again, the city was peaceful, and all groups existed in a symbiotic relationship.
In early 2010, Kurmanbek Bakiyev was the second Kyrgyz president to be ousted by by a popular revolution. Several months later, provocations and political pressure created the conditions for massive ethnic rioting in Osh. In the process, hundreds of thousands were displaced, more than 400 were killed, and entire areas of city were targeted by ethnicity and burned to the ground. The justice system has persecuted one group indiscriminately and the other with impunity. Some say that any trust that had grown between the two groups over the past 20 years is gone. In some ways, they may be right. Many have lost friends, family, homes or ways of living. Since then many have become more nationalistic, while Uzbeks have grown increasing disengaged from a political process they cannot participate in.
The family unit is a special thing. Your family creates and shapes your first perceptions of the world and its inhabitants. While societal and local pressures may shape who you become, the family remains the core for many. Some say that your decision of who to marry is one of the most important of your life, because you will spend time with this person and create a family with them. For nine months I lived in Osh and navigated personal connections to befriend couples who had married across ethnic lines. This project consists of a series of portraits made in communities both within and north and south of Osh.
These families are strong and they all have their own story. They have not allowed societal norms and attitudes to define their family unit. They have chosen to ignore the shifting of the societal attitudes, and rather to find coexistence and harmony (the Kyrgyz and Uzbek word for this is Yntymak) with one another. There are many factors and circumstances that may make life and success difficult in southern Kyrgyzstan, and these families share the common belief that their love is stronger than any intimidation or political stance.
Batma & Batyr
"Be strong and unyielding, this is your household and you must look after everyone."
Batma (57) is ethnic Uzbek and works at the local hospital.
Batyr (60) is ethnic Kyrgyz and is retired, although he spent his earlier years as a commercial trucker in southern Tajikistan.
They met in their hometown of Gulcha in their early 20's and fell in love. They have 5 sons, all of whom have married. They speak Uzbek in their own home, because of their community, but speak Kyrgyz when relatives from the region of Alai visit, or when they are in the city.
Inavat & Abdirazak
"We have had children and educated them. We have water. We have food. We have jobs. We have a home. We have everything we need. This makes us happy."
Inavat (60) is ethnic Uzbek and serves as deputy of the local Ail Kenesh or local government, after working 28 years as a medical assistant.
Abdirazak (63) is ethnic Kyrgyz and now works as a driver.
Both of them had Kyrgyz fathers and Uzbek Mothers.
They married in 1972, after Abdirazak met her at medical school and kidnapped her. They now have five children who all live in Russia, practicing medicine and law.
After the June events, interethnic marriages stopped and tension existed. Mister Baimaziev, the leader of district at the time, placed police on every corner to ensure that nothing would happen. In August 2010, they chose to host a large wedding for their daughter who was marrying an Uzbek man. The marriage was huge and they played equal Kyrgyz and Uzbek songs, in addition to splitting . Traditionally there are 12 groomsmen, representing the 12 parts a lamb is divided into. For this wedding there were 6 Kyrgyz and 6 Uzbek men. The put many tables in the middle of the road and had a huge ceremony.
"Since ancient times there has been no division among the cultures."
Matluba & Nurali
"How many children do we want? Many boys and many girls, a football team and a volleyball team. We're okay for now. It's a lot of work."
Matluba (32) is ethnic Kyrgyz and works as a teacher.
Nurali (32) is ethnic Tajik, although his ethnicity is legally Uzbek because his great grandfather wanted to integrate. He originally worked as a math teacher, but now works as a driver.
They have three children and have been married for 10 years.
They studied mathematics together at the Ala Buka University for 6 years.
Nurali's family was initially upset by the marriage, not because of ethnicity, but because he married before his two older brothers.
His father is Yigitali and gave all of his sons freedom in choosing their wives. His sister married an Uzbek and lives in Osh. His other brothers have married Russians and Tartars, and his sister an Uzbek.
Umida & Elishbek
"It takes time to raise a family."
Umida (21) is ethnic Uzbek.
Elishbek (24) is ethnic Kyrgyz and works as a farmer.
They have been married for 1.5 years and have a son, Abdul Jaffar who is 7 months old.
Gulnaz & Adyl
"Couples should rely on one another. Of course there is the 'risk zone' and at first there was pressure to divorce, but eventually our family understood our feelings."
Gulnaz is ethnic Kyrgyz and works as a professional musician, performer and music teacher.
Adyly is ethnic Uzbek and works as a song writer, audio technician and music producer. He originally took a journalism degree, but stopped because of his love for music.
They have been married for 5 years, and celebrated their anniversary in November 2013.
Umida & Timur
Umida is ethnic Uzbek.
Timur's parents are ethnic Tajik and ethnic Kyrgyz.
They married in January 2013, 11 months before this image was created. Their daughter, Bubusara was only 25 days old. She is named after a story by the poet Chinghiz Aitmatov.
Raihana & Maksutbek
"One day at a time."
Raihana is ethnic Uzbek.
Maksutbek is ethnic Kyrgyz.
They have been married two years and have a one year old son Beksultan. Although they live in Ala Buka, they own and manage a shop in Osh.
Umansai & Kamaldin
"Love is all you need. Without love you have nothing."
Umsunai (54) is ethnic Kyrgyz and has served as a school director the past 12 years and on the local parliament for the past two years.
Kamaldin (60) is ethnic Uzbek and has worked as a mounter at an electrical company for the past 37 years.
They have been married for 35 years and have three daughters and one son. They met while working at the same electrical company, where Umsunai worked as a secretary and Kamaldin worked as a mounter. Kamaldin fell in love and kidnapped her with the help of his friends. She did not want to marry him and broke all of the windows in the house. Eventually, they had a large wedding with lots of friends. Kamaldin liked Umsunai's long hair and says that his "heart was attacked" when he saw her. She says, "Love does not feel any boundaries. He was handsome, and had black hair."
Both families come from pure blood (all Kyrgyz and all Uzbek). They chose to celebrate the wedding using Kyrgyz wedding translations.
Nadira & Ulukbek
"Our daughter was born four days ago. We want a good life for her."
Nadira (23) is ethnic Uzbek and was born in Ak Korgon.
Ulukbek (26) is ethnic Kyrgyz and works as a farmer. He was born in Ala Buka. His father, Joomoar is 66 and also comes from a Kyrgyz father and Uzbek mother.
Meravat & Ulukbek
"During the USSR Soviet Period, there were no nationalities. In our family there is no difference."
Meravat is ethnic Uzbek and teaches foreign languages. She is fluent in Russian, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Hindi and German.
Ulukbek is ethnic Kyrgyz and works as a lawyer. He has five brothers and one sister.
Meravat was classmates with one of Ulukbek's brothers. After meeting in Russia, they fell in love. They married in 1988 and lived in Russia, Bishkek and Jalalabad before moving to Osh. Their two daughters work in Russia. They primarily speak Russian at home.
Corporate and Event
A glimpse into Katutura township near Windhoek, Namibia, and the Gugulethu and Khayelitsha townships outside of Cape Town, South Africa.
Maternity Staff, Ala Buka District Hospital, Kyrgyzstan
Maternity Staff, Ala Buka District Hospital, Kyrgyzstan, Ambient Portraits
Apiza Amitova, Journalist for Osh Shami, Osh, Kyrgyzstan
Masculinity in Erbil
February 2009. Les Anglais, Haiti. Timothy's home.
Boys play songs for the Voudou celebration of carnival.
"Let us save soul, Let us also save our body"
February 2009. Handwritten message on the door of the Les Anglais Mission Church.
Perfectly All Right
In 2012, I worked in two service sector jobs as a food prep worker and dishwasher. I became interested in my coworkers, their friends and this industry. Perfectly all right is an exploratory documentary featuring eight residents of the city of Townsville in Eastern Australia.
The project explores what that everyone has, some have pursued and none have consciously forgotten; dreams and the perceptions that surround our constructed identities.
Dreams are the undiluted product of our upbringing and experiences. They are the purest semblance of what we may have grown into had everything in our life gone differently (not necessarily for the better). This is real life, and situations can arise putting our pursuit of these goals on hold for more practical reasons. Bills accumulate, family members move to fight overseas, children are born, and rent needs to be paid. The need for a stable income and meth- od of achieving financial normalcy takes priority over illusory goals.
I chose to use clothing to communicate this. This project is about the individual, not the situation or career.
Dreams are submitted to the harsh expectancies of reality and yet, life continues onward. We do something to pay the bills. Our pay is received and we return home to the personal kingdom we have created, living life as best we can. Despite this disconnect, we find that in the end we are oftentimes perfectly all right.
September 17, 2012. Monroe Wright looks out the window of his home in NE Washington, D.C. where he lives alone. Wright is the project chair for Aging in Place, a 200 person program that pairs elders with volunteer services so they can stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted living community.
April 7, 2012. Seventh grader Humam Abbulmalik of The SEED School of Washington, D.C. stands with other protestors as James Johnson's "The Black National Anthem" resounds. More than 100 marchers rallied across the District dressed in hoodies on Saturday to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin.
March 27, 2012. Amy Brighton drove from Madina, OH to protest in front of the Supreme court as the courts continued to discuss the constitutionality of the individual mandate clause of the Affordable Care Act.
January 19, 2014. Gulnaz cleans rice to start the process of making plov in the inner courtyard of a mixed ethnic family in central Osh. Plov is a traditional Central Asian slow-cooked dish made primarily of rice, and depending on the country, region, or city can include various cuts of meat (lamb, beef, or fish), vegetables, and dried fruits.
November 10, 2012. George Washington Guard Joe McDonald breaks past Youngstown State Forward Bobby Hain during a game at the GW Smith Center. Despite a push in the last quarter, GW lost to Youngstown 73-80.
December 12, 2012. Hundreds of Portland residents donned Santa outfits and headed to the bars as part of the annual SantaCon event. Here, a man racks the next game for his friends between two lotto machines.
September 13, 2012. GW Cross Country coach Terry Weir takes a break in the Smith Center's gym. Weir will prioritize building on his team's ability to work as a unit in the upcoming season. “I remember going to a high school cross country camp and seeing all of these coaches that I knew,” Weir said. “I thought, ‘Shoot me if I ever become a coach.’ Lo and behold, now I’m a coach.”
March 16, 2014. Last year Nurali left his family in Andijan, Uzbekistan to find work in Moscow. He wants to be a businessman, but for now he sells SIM cards for about $50 a day outside of metro stations in the city. There are no reliable statistics, but some estimates say Central Asians make up roughly 10% of Moscow's population of 12 to 17 million. Russia's Federal Migration Service (FMS) estimates that 2.5 million Uzbeks, over a million Tajiks and some 550,000 Kyrgyz are working in the country.
April 20, 2010. Members of the GW Men's Rowing team practice on the Potomac River. The team will meet around sunset every morning before setting off for practice.
September 5, 2013. Performers ready themselves in the multiethnic Yugovostok neighborhood before taking to the stage at a two year anniversary of the Public Radio and Telecoms station Yntymak. The station was created to promote racial harmony following mass ethnic rioting in 2010.
April 15, 2012. Several hundred GW students congregated at the University Square to take part in the celebration of Holi, an Indian festival dating back several thousand years in which participants cover each other in brightly colored powders.
February 22, 2012. Walker Connelly stands outside of a church in Washington, DC after participating in an Ash Wednesday service. He views religion as a feeling and has been experimenting with different walks over past years. He has seen the inside of temples, mosques and churches.
April 17, 2012. Nearly 2,000 individuals gathered on the National Mall to watch the Discovery Shuttle as it flew 'strapped' to a Boeing 747 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its new home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
This shuttle was named after the 18th-century British vessel HMS Discovery which was captained by James Cook. The name is fitting; over a period of 27 years the shuttle flew 39 successful missions, orbiting the earth for a cumulative 365 days.
March 22, 2012. At a conference to discuss the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, Ethan Williams, looks up between his mother Felicia Williams and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Ethan underwent eight lifesaving operations before he grew past 20 lbs.
December 14, 2013. Nurali anticipates performing in the first speed Rubiks Cube Competition in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.