Preparing the Next Generation of Photojournalists
Sherman Teichman
Samuel James, the winner of Exposure’s first Alexandra Boulat Award, will continue his photographic work on the lives of the “Area Boys,” youth gangs in the slums of Lagos, Nigeria. The award, named in honor of a cofounder of VII Photo Agency, carries a $2,500 stipend to promote the creation of documentary work with a social purpose. (Story continues below.)

James, a senior at Tufts University and a participant in the university’s Institute for Global Leadership’s Exposure program, has worked with the Social and Economic Rights Action Center in Nigeria. His research article, “Urbicide: Lagos and the Crisis of the Megacity,’’ appeared in the IGL publication, Discourse. Accompanying his words were his images in “Water Get No Enemy: A Photo Essay from Lagos, Nigeria.”

James explains that the amorphous and contentious term “Area Boys” is used to describe gangs of unemployed young men who control small areas of Lagos, Nigeria. As these gangs proliferate, with a population now estimated in the hundreds of thousands, they often morph into ethnic militias, vigilantes, mercenaries, trade unions, and political parties—groups that generally seek political spoils through various means of violence and coercion. In most cases, however, the realm of “Area Boy” exists as a cultural expression rather than a defined social group—this project is an exploration through that realm.

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