Stone Town Ghosts
I traveled to Zanzibar to photograph women of diverse religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. Along the winding alleys in Stone Town, women are particularly noticeable, in part because of the sheer diversity of their clothing and ethnic features, indicators that often telegraph defining aspects of their identities, roots, religions and cultural practices. Reflecting a degree of religious tolerance and multiculturalism, Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital, is home to approximately forty-eight Mosques, four Hindu temples, a Buddhist temple and two Christian Cathedrals, one Anglican, the other Roman Catholic. Women in Zanzibar trace their lineage back to Swahili, Arab, Indian, Goan, Shirazi, African, Persian and Omani origins. Many are of mixed race, reflecting both the cultural synthesis and the ethnic conflict that have shaped the arc of Zanzibar’s complex history. These photographs are part of my larger Women @ Work in African Project. As a photographer I was exploring the question of how women work to define their multiracial, multicultural, religiously diverse, cosmopolitan identities on a small island where the postcolonial legacy is engraved in the architecture and the trauma of past conflicts remains palpable.