Picturing the New Americans

Minneapolis, Minnesota, is home to roughly 30,000 people of Somali origin. Many of them are refugees, having fled famine and decades of war—a situation not dissimilar to that of today’s Syrian refugees. For the past year, photographer Arthur Nazaryan documented this enclave of new Americans to show that Somalis, and migrants in general, could be more than "perpetrators or victims of conflict."

The Somalis who live in Minneapolis are much like regular Minnesotans —barbecuing, riding speedboats, going to the playground, and hosting dinner parties. According to Nazaryan, they are also avid Snapchatters, posting selfies of their every move.  “I was kind of surprised, given how conservative the culture can be, to see the younger generation going out, dating, and using social media,” Nazaryan said.  “In Somali culture, it’s really important to be connected and communicate with each other.”

But earlier this year, the community garnered headlines after a handful of Somali-American men were accused of planning to join ISIS. Three have plead guilty, despite intense efforts from local leaders to counter extremism.

"People only pay attention to them when there are these anomalous cases," Nazaryan said."I think it is worth looking at how this community lives, because they’ve also come as refugees from a country that continues to be torn apart by Islamic extremism — and have been both benefactors of our generosity and victims of our suspicion."

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Raphael Dias / Getty for the International Paralympic Committee

    Hopeful Images From 2016

    After another year of news stories that produced photos that can often be difficult or disturbing to view, I thought I’d take the time to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year.

  • Adam Rhew / Charlotte Magazine / Reuters

    2016: The Year in Photos, September–December

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2016. Among the events covered in this essay: the U.S. presidential election; continued wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; a new view of the planet Jupiter; and much more.

  • Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

    2016: The Year in Photos, May-August

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2016. Among the events covered in this essay: the Summer Olympics in Rio, the U.S. Republican and Democratic national conventions, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, and much more.

  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

    2016: The Year in Photos, January-April

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2016. Among the events covered in this essay: earthquakes in Ecuador and Taiwan, the passing of entertainers David Bowie and Prince, and much more.

Join the Discussion