commentary, video


So this one time, I fainted after interviewing a woman who shot down an American fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and woke to find her rubbing mentol into my temples. And as it turns out, there’s a video of it! By our wonderful translator, Chau, who’s giving the play by play in the clip.

Taken this past summer while working on the Woman Warriors project in Hue, Vietnam.  And here’s the portrait of the lovely Vietnamese grandmother who’s fanning me (and who later gave me some wonderful homemade lemonade to help me feel well enough to make her portraits).

commentary, video

noida bazaar

Baridhara, the neighborhood in which my language program and current apartment is located, is known as the ‘diplomatic enclave’ of Dhaka.  It is, in a number of ways, a gated community, and it receives a great deal of flak for not being the real Dhaka.  Yet it is a fascinating place, not only because of the people it houses and the dynamics it fosters, but also because it embodies an important and prominent part of of life in Dhaka City – the stark contrasts in the economic well-being of its residents.

You can see it in a mere five minutes away from my room.  Head down the stairs, take a right once you’re out on the street, and keep straight (shoja!) until you find yourself face to face with a hulking metal wall, demarcating the end of the road – and of Baridhara. Walk up to its face and you’ll see the hole the size of a small doorway cut out of its lower left hand side.  Step through and you’ll have left behind the (relative) quiet of Baridhara’s (relatively) large roads, and entered into the whirl and bustle of Noida Bazaar.

The contrast is striking.

And so are the questions raised by it – how such walls can serve as so much more than just a literal barrier is fascinating.  Economic inequality smacks you hard in the face in most developing countries, and particularly in urban centers, where the ultra rich live feet down from the ultra poor.  Baridhara in itself is an interesting place to explore, as is Noida Bazaar.  But take a bird’s eye view of the two, and return to the ground level to see how they interact at the end of Park Road, and you’ve got yourself a really compelling exploration.

See the gate for yourself in the video above – a little thing of nightlife in Noida Bazaar that I threw together from a shots taken a couple of Thursday nights ago.

commentary, fun!, video


Above is a stupendous video made by some superlative people in sunny California and sent all the way to the mosquito-ridden streets of Bangladesh.  It was no straightforward journey, involving the shipment of a package that went all the way from San Diego to Dhaka and back, its reshipment through a different and more circuitous route, and finally a rickshaw ride from Banani through Gulshan and (finally!) to our Baridhara doorstep.

So, 30,000 miles and much anticipation later, I present to you one of the best videos ever made.

(A mammoth THANK YOU to Miss Rosemarie Wagner and Mr. Ezra Furman.  You should have seen the accompanying card and crown.  Pure genius.)


down, up

After having no internet for a few days, it’s back up (for now!), and that means there’s finally time to share these two videos that have been on line for a while now!

The first, I don’t know quite how to describe other than to say it was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever witnessed, ever.  Captured at Wonderland – Dhaka’s local amusement park – this was the penultimate ride of the day, on a trip taken to celebrate a trio of October 12 birthdays.  In case it isn’t clear in the video, yes, that is Bengali man dancing in a giant mouse mascot costume.  And yes, that is an imam as the only other passenger on the ride.  We’re still searching for the words to describe it.

The second is my flatmate’s new kitten, a very loud and very sleepy little guy.

A new video is exporting as I type, so stay tuned for part three!

fun!, video

curious kitteh

Much overdue for an update – it’s been a busy couple of weeks with a lot of contact meetings and what have you! – but I have to continue to delay on writing a bit longer, so sorry!!  But for now, I’ll leave you with a little video I threw together of a much-loved kitty taken in by Keith, one of the fellow Bangla kids here.  A little kitty goes a long way, you know?

fun!, video

concentric circles

This past week was Durga Puja, and a few of us went and checked out the festivities at various times over the weekend (pictures forthcoming).

On Saturday night, we were waiting for a ride from Old Dhaka after the celebrations, talking with one gentleman who had been walking with us and acting a pseudo-guide for a while.  We were standing in a small circle chatting when we noticed a person or two come up behind us.  Five minutes later, this is what the area immediately surrounding our circle looked like.  It felt a bit funny making a video, but it was just too silly and absurd not to document.  I guess we stuck out a little?

photography, video

the last village, audio slideshow


As part of the The Institute for Global Leadership’s [EXPOSURE]/Aftermath Project workshop in Ajmer, India, led by Sara Terry and Asim Rafiqui last August 2009, I put together a presentation with some video, audio, and photographs from the trip.  Click through for the full story and photoessay, and see below for the slideshow.

Elizabeth Herman | The Last Village from Institute For Global Leadership on Vimeo.

My two weeks in Ajmer were spent in Kankarda, a small village on the outskirts of the city,  which had been forced to sell a significant portion of land to the government for the construction of a new railway track to Pushkar, a popular tourist destination 17km to the northwest of Ajmer. The tracks had not only divided the agricultural lands of Kankarda, but had also created fissures in the social and cultural fabric of the community.  The railroad meant that India’s modernity, with its conveniences and deprivations, had arrived right at its doorstep, imposing new values and new dreams amongst a younger generation of villagers that were rapidly becoming more interested in careers, conveniences, and city life. As the elderly looked on, their traditional agricultural way of life evermore irrelevant, they could see that their village had become a smaller version of the broader changes taking place in today’s India.

photography, video


“Satellites” is the culmination of Jonas Bendiksen’s fascinating seven-year photographic journey through unrecognized countries, enclaves, and isolated communities on the periphery of the former Soviet Union. From Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia, he takes us into little known places where the stark legacy of the Soviet collapse continues to evolve: Transdniester, Abkhazia and Nagorno Karabakh, the Ferghana Valley, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the spaceship crash zones on the Kazakh steppes. In these outposts, the transition to the post-communist world order brought mixed results – some lost everything to bloody civil wars, while others find themselves in tiny pariah states that remain all but closed to the outside world. Some evolved peculiar self-styled brands of capitalism, others simply packed their bags and left.

unfortuantely, i can’t embed it here, but take my word for it, it’s worth the click through…

Jonas Bendiksen‘s “Satellites” is smart, insightful, illustrative work with a thoughtfully constructed narrative and beautiful images; i can’t recommend it enough.