• The Secret Books
    The Secret Books
    by Jorge Luis Borges, Sean Kernan
  • Among Trees
    Among Trees
Teaching and Lecturing

Note from a friend in Cairo


Mubarak Thugs Target Cairo Scholars Listserv

If you are an American student or scholar working in Egypt, you likely heard about Cairo Scholars by word of mouth or google search before your arrival . It’s often dubbed the “Craigslist of Cairo” and upon landing you might have consulted this listserv to find an apartment, roommate, daycare, or Arabic lessons in your adoptive city.


On Wednesday, February 2, pro-Mubarak thugs came out to the streets of Cairo, but also took to the internet to intimidate foreign students and scholars on Cairo Scholars accusing them of being “f’n traitors” and “agents of the Americans” who “want to set the whole country on fire.” One pro-Mubarak loyalist threatened: “u have been reported.”


Since Wednesday, Cairo Scholars members have reported dozens of incidents of foreigners being arrested or detained for questioning by pro-Mubarak police and state security. This harassment is state-sponsored and constitutes a direct assault on cultural diplomacy and academic exchange with the people of Egypt. This pattern of intimidation includes that of journalists, whose prime offense is connecting Egypt to the outside world.

Unlike Craigslist though, Cairo Scholars’ express purpose is to support specifically students and scholars abroad doing the work of cultural exchange and person-to-person diplomacy. For that reasons, the list has a closed membership in order to promote a sense of community and relative trust among students and scholars abroad, who need to depend on each other for daily needs.

These threats come at a time of crisis, when information flow is essential for students and scholars abroad to make informed decisions about where to get food and provisions, how to cope and whether to stay in Egypt or uproot themselves.
For more information about Cairo Scholars and the state of its members, please contact Prof. Samer Ali, Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin, email: <>.


Absolutely brilliant and penetrating interview by David Brommer

David and I had a chat about photography, creativity, and learning that  is now on the B and H Insights page. Worth a listen...I think, but then what do I know? You decide.


Dapper in Kampala

I saw this well-dressed group as I trudged up the hill to sit and take a rest. It was well worth stopping and unpacking a camera. Now I'm resting and writing.

I find I always write better sitting on a wide, shaded verandah of a tropical hotel and drinking tea, my  drug of choice in formerly British lands. My handwriting improves and my thoughts are clearer as I set them down. It all makes me feel like Graham Greene

So at this moments I am esconced at the Speke Hotel in Kampala, scribbling away. I am here in Uganda working on my project about African boxers, thanks to a grant from the State of Connecticut and a teaching prize from the Center in Santa Fe.

When I knew I'd be coming back here I reviewed the work I'd already done, and to my astonishment I uncovered a set of photos that look quite different from edits of the first two trips. It was as though I'd been inhabited by a shadow photographer. Before, I'd edited for things that looked like boxing pictures. But this time I discovered much more work that was about light and energy. It looked like dance. not photographs of dance but dance itself.

The thing that is evolving as I work this time around is that the project is balancing much more toward video, toward movement itself. There are things that would be unremarkable as stills but that come to life when they move thorugh time, passing in and out of light, merging with another image, floating on sound. It is not easy to set aside looking for stills. I mean, I know I can do them and do them well. But this other thing keeps insisting on itself.

The only thing I don't like about video work is that you have to go through all the files...slowly. My quick and instinctive way of editing stills does't function, and I have to go back and forth looking for small moments and letting things accrue.

Well, you'll see how/if it all worked when I get back home.

In a few days I will be doing some theater games with children at L.E.A.D Uganda. They are mostly AIDS orphans, street children and some ex-child soldiers, and they have lived lives that you and I can hardly imagine. They are also very present and friendly, even loving, and I'm very excited to see what will happen. I'll report here.


A teaching award from the Center. Very gratifying.

The Center, an orginazion in Santa Fe that promotes the art of photography, has just announced its Excellence in Teaching award, and I'm it.

It is very gratifying, especially since I more or less scaled the outside of the edifice of photographic education. I'm very thankful for this award.

More here.


Kickstarter Campaign for the Crow Video Project.


There has been a warm and generous response to my email about the video project shooting on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, but only afterward did it occurred to me that people might like to support it at different levels. So I have gone ahead and set up a campaign at Kickstarter,  here.

There are several premiums, including copies of Among Trees and The Secret Books, as well as prints from the reservation and Among Trees. (No tote bags. Sorry.) We have several donors already, including an offer from an organization called Lighthawks, a group of volunteer pilots who fly for worthwhile projects. That means aerial footage over the reservation land!

Since coming back from Montana I have been plowing through the footage I did there, looking for the good stuff, trying to see how it weaves with what I already have, and looking for what I might need to do on the next trip. In the end I'm envisioning something that is like a series of stories or even poems , and the only way I know of to get to it is to keep trying things. So that's the work.

Anyway, please drop by Kickstarter, where there's a short video and more about the project. 

And--very important--please help by passing this along to anyone you think might care. Our success in this campaign will come with the number of people who see it.

Many Thanks,

Sean Kernan

PS For anyone who is around New Haven and might be interested, I'll be giving a talk at the Yale Medical School on December 2nd.

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