James Nachtwey – Biography
Beginning in 1981, James Nachtwey has dedicated his career to documenting wars and critical social issues. Motivated by the belief that public awareness is an essential element in the process of change and that photographs of war in the mass media can become an intervention on behalf of peace, he has covered conflicts worldwide. In Europe, he documented the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the wars in Chechnya and civil strife in Northern Ireland. In Africa, he photographed the genocide in Rwanda, famine as a weapon of mass destruction in Somalia and Sudan and the liberation struggle in South Africa. He documented the civil wars that engulfed Central America during the 1980s, in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, as well as the U.S. invasions of Panama and Haiti. In the Middle East, he has covered the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, as well as the civil wars in Lebanon and, most recently, the American war in Iraq, where he was wounded in a grenade attack. Nachtwey began working in Afghanistan during the 1980s, photographing the resistance to the Soviet occupation. In 1996, he documented the Taliban siege of Kabul during the final phase of the Afghan Civil War and in 2001, the counter-offensive against the Taliban. In 2010, Nachtwey photographed the American
military campaign in Helmand Province. In other parts of Asia, he has documented guerrilla groups at war in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the ethnic conflict between the Karen and the Burmese government, the overthrow of dictatorships in the Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia, as well as the deadly military crackdown on demonstrators in Bangkok in 2010. Nachtwey has covered the current refugee crisis in Europe, the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar, earthquakes in Haiti, Japan and Nepal, and the extrajudicial ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines. He has pursued social issues throughout the world with equal dedication. State-sanctioned institutional abuse of orphans in Romania, homelessness, drug addiction, poverty, crime and industrial pollution are a few of the subjects he has photographed extensively. Since the year 2000, he has become involved in documenting global health issues in the developing world. In 2007, he received the TED Prize and created a global awareness campaign about tuberculosis, believing that mass consciousness helps facilitate funding and research, mobilizes donors and motivates political will. In 2017 and 2018, Nachtwey documented the opioid crisis in America for a special issue of TIME Magazine. Dartmouth College has acquired the entire archive of his life’s work. In addition to his continuing photographic work in the field, he is currently a Provostial Fellow at Dartmouth and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.