[T]his project is an examination of a grey space at the center of the global map. In political terms it ranges from the Iranian-Afghan border to the Pakistan-India Line of Control. In geological terms, it surrounds the Hindu Kush mountain range, where it is met by the Karakoram, Himalayan, and Pamir mountains. These mountains have stood as a shield, and as a curtain, obscuring the region from the outside the world, even as successive armies have been drawn into its fold. I have been photographing this region since 2002, exploring a place that defies any simple classification. National boundaries have been drawn and redrawn here, blurred by overlapping tribes and clans, and by drifting populations of nomads and refugees.
Today, the stress on this region is intense and escalating. The bulk of the world’s heroin originates in the provinces that conjoin these nations. These countries are intertwined by mountains that separate the oil wealth of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea from the rising forces of India and China. Jihadis, “crusaders”, nation-builders and peacekeepers pursue competing agendas here. The elements that underpin this sweeping story are global in scope, and may once again prove to be the undoing of a global superpower. My intention is to explore this story from the most local perspective, through the lives of people caught in the recurring collision of continents and civilizations, and in the disintegration of empires. In my journeys here, I have photographed shepherds and school teachers, farmers and foot soldiers, refugees and mujahideen, and my interest remains focused on the nameless people whose lives are most directly impacted by the grand strategies of world leaders.