Born and raised in Tennessee, Robert “Haji Memphis” King is a photographer and videographer who has documented almost every major conflict since the Bosnian War in the early 90s. Robert has no formal training in journalism, and obviously he doesn’t need it because apparently the man is a bulletproof ghost. He’s covered fighting in places like Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, and Haiti, his photographs have been published in just about every publication you can name, and his footage has been broadcast around the globe. In October, he risked his life by diving into the war-torn city of Aleppo to bring VICE the startling words and images that constitute the backbone of this very special issue dedicated to Syria.
See THE MAN WHO WAS THERE
ANNA THERESE DAY
An independent journalist and social-media researcher, Anna Therese Day specializes in “global civil-society organizing,” and whatever that is, we think the world needs more of it. In 2012, she was named a UN Press Fellow, and the year before made Google Zeitgeist’s top 30 Great Young Minds of Our Time. She’s been on the ground in Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Syria, and Turkey, and her work has been featured in media outlets like CNN International, the BBC, and Al Jazeera English. For this issue, she embedded with the Free Syrian Army to report on how they have been acquiring their weapons. As with most things in the country at the moment, things didn’t turn out as planned.
David Degner is an American photojournalist based in Egypt who lives a stone’s throw from Tahrir Square. Over the past year and a half, upheavals in the Middle East have taken him to Libya, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Syria, but he tends to focus on stories about Egypt’s now-unchained and quickly evolving culture. He studied photojournalism and philosophy at Western Kentucky University, interned at a few newspapers, worked in China until he was booted into Kazakhstan, shot commercial photography in Florida, and ended up in Egypt, which isn’t so different from his native southern US, as it turns out. His account of interacting with pro-Assad citizens in Syria and corresponding photos are a highlight of this issue.
See THE DELUSIONS OF ASSAD
Max Weiss is an assistant professor of history and Near Eastern studies at Princeton University. He is the author of In the Shadow of Sectarianism: Law, Shi **`**ism, and the Making of Modern Lebanon, and the translator of Samar Yazbek’s A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution, as well as Nihad Sirees’s The Silence and the Roar, and, most recently, Hassouna Mosbahi’s A Tunisian Tale. His current writing projects include an interpretive history of Syria through the 20th century, which will soon be published by Princeton University Press, and a translation of Fawwaz Haddad’s Solo Piano Music, a previously unpublished selection of which we are honored to present in this issue.
There’s this crew of LA transplants living in New York who haven’t stopped celebrating since they arrived five years ago. Sunny Shokrae is their wildest daughter, not to mention their hardest worker, baddest headbanger, staunchest lifer artist, and chillest chola (even though she was born in Iran). A “spooky kid” photo snapper from the age of six, her well-aged fetish for silent family feelings, unguarded nuance, and morning light gives her a thoughtful, loving gaze that you want on you now and you want it bad. For this issue, Sunny shot a family of Syrian Jews who live in Brooklyn… which seems mundane until you realize that there are potentially fewer than 20 Jews living in Syria today.
See ALL IN THE FAMILY