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

  • Ognen Teofilovski / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 6/18-6/24

    A glass slide 1,000 feet above the ground in Los Angeles, an emu is helped away from a California wildfire, a selfie in the 125 degrees Fahrenheit heat of Palm Springs, a Hello Kitty face grown on a melon in Japan, and much more.

  • Roger Steffens / Benrubi Gallery

    A Family Album on Acid

    Roger Steffens’ photographs of his wife, son, and daughter during the Electric Kool-Aid era

  • Sergio Perez / Reuters

    A Tripped Syrian Refugee Finds a Home in Spain

    Last September, photos of a Syrian refugee being tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman as he tried to flee border police went viral. His story caught the attention of a soccer training school near Madrid that helped him find work and a new home.

  • Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

    Photos of Southern California's Wildfires

    A punishing heat wave across the American Southwest has spawned a number of early season wildfires in Southern California, including the Sherpa Fire, which has burned nearly 8,000 acres in less than a week.

Join the Discussion