Pulitzer Center Update

This Week in Review: Europe's Dark Dawn

Golden Dawn members at a food distribution in the neighborhood where Ali Rahimi was attacked. Image by William Wheeler. Greece, 2012.

The European Union managed to patch together a plan to sidestep a financial meltdown, but as Pulitzer Center grantee Bill Wheeler writes in The New York Times, the EU’s political leaders have done very little to halt the rise of far-right ultranationalist groups that seem to flourish in times of economic uncertainty.

Bill reports from Greece, the epicenter of the euro crisis, where “parts of Athens feel like a war zone (and) racist gangs cruise the streets at night in search of victims.” He documents the emergence of Golden Dawn, a thuggish fascist group that is currently the third most popular party in Greece: “By exploiting a security void and rising xenophobia, the party won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010. In Greece’s election earlier this year, the party capitalized on widespread anti-immigrant sentiment and contempt for a political establishment that brought the country to the brink of economic collapse. It won almost 7 percent of the national vote and 18 seats in Parliament.”

The troubling echo from the 1930s, when Europe’s far-right demagogues found convenient scapegoats in Jews, foreigners, Gypsies and gays, is hard to ignore.

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The financial crisis has also hit hard in Asia. More and more people are “disposable workers,” as Pulitzer Center grantee Shiho Fukada calls them, easily fired or reduced to part-time work. In Japan, the toll has been particularly high, as suicide rates spike and thousands are homeless, living in cybercafes. Shiho is looking for comments from people around the world about their experiences with disposable work either on her project page or using #disposedJPN on Twitter.

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What does the world look like through the lens of a professional photographer’s iPhone?

Grantee Sean Gallagher has been traveling across the Tibetan plateau, photographing some of the early impacts of climate change. “For the past year and a half I have been taking pictures with my phone, mostly using it as a way to document smaller moments, or objects and things that I just wanted to record as a reminder for myself,” writes Sean. He says he sees his cell phone as a new tool “to experiment with, to play with, to help me think slightly differently about my approach to my work. Many of the images that I take with my phone have been captured in a manner that could not have been possible with my normal equipment.”

Cell phone photography also gives Sean access to a new audience. He shares his mobile uploads through Instagram, where he says he has discovered “a large community of people who are interested in the work I do and the issues that I cover.”

With best wishes for the Thanksgiving holiday,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor