Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: Mine Control

A copper mine in Zambia. Image by Thomas Lekfeldt/Moment/Redux. Zambia, 2013.

Chinese dollars and the Chinese themselves have been pouring into Africa, mining the continent’s abundant resources, opening businesses, building infrastructure and generally making everyone nervous. Americans and Europeans are worried that the Chinese are gaining strategic advantage in the race to exploit Africa’s resources; Africans are afraid they (again) are the ones being exploited.

“The threat (whether real or imagined) of a looming Chinese imperialist presence in Africa has given way to what has been called ‘resource nationalism,’ in which countries aim to take control of the exploitation of their natural resources,” writes Pulitzer Center grantee Alexis Okeowo in a piece for The New Yorker. “But this idea potentially fails to address the fact that the Chinese in Africa are people, and not just part of a faceless imperialist mass.”

Alexis is taking an up-close look at how Chinese investment and Chinese immigration are impacting one African country. “In Zambia, a copper-rich country in southern Africa and the beneficiary of the continent’s third-highest level of Chinese investment, persistent unemployment and poverty have left Zambians wondering where exactly the fruits of their government’s lucrative deals with the Chinese have gone.”


In the villages of Achham, in Nepal’s Himalayan hinterland, women and girls are routinely banished to sheds, caves and animal barns while they are menstruating, a practice called chaupadi that regards women as “impure” during their period. In a documentary video for The New York Times Pulitzer Center grantees Allison Shelley and Allyn Gaestel expose some of the hazards faced by women during their monthly exile. Hypothermia, snake-bite and rape are not uncommon.

“Each woman I met in Achham had a slightly different take on the practice,” says Allyn. “Like so many issues around culture, gender and health, chaupadi is deeply complicated. It is local, it is nuanced, and it is entrenched.”


Major European outlets prominently featured the work of our photographers last week. Sean Gallagher’s stark and stunning images documenting climate change on the Tibetan Plateau can be seen in this audio slideshow for The Guardian. Meanwhile, Shiho Fukada’s photo essay on the lives of under-employed or unemployed Japanese workers forced to live in Internet cafes, part of her project on Japan's disintegrating social safety net, appeared in Le Monde’s weekly magazine M.


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