Recognizing Grey

Nelofer Pazira

Nelofer Pazira


Director, author, actress and journalist Nelofer Pazira grew up in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, fled first to Pakistan, and eventually to New Brunswick. She peels back the layers of the Western media's simplified black-and-white coverage of the Middle East in the 2014 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism.

The problem we have is we always have to reduce everything to a few seconds. The other problem of course is we often use the excuse of the audience or the listeners or the readers. We say "oh because they don't understand it, we have to simplify it." My experience is always been the absolute opposite. I think the readers, the listeners, the audience, are far more informed, they're intelligent, they would like to have the complexity. In fact they would be satisfied with that.  But we reduce it to simplicity, on the basis or assumption on our part that they won't understand it, so we must make it basic and sort of black and white."

Nelofer Pazira

Nelofer Pazira grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, before her family escaped to Pakistan.They later settled in Moncton, New Brunswick.

She took up journalism, studying at Carleton, and then did a combined masters in anthropology, sociology, and religion at Concordia. She's worked for CBC Television and Radio, and has written for the Toronto Star and the Independent newspaper in London.

That's in addition to being the star of the feature film, Kandahar, as well as the creator of several documentaries on Afghanistan and the middle East.

Her 2006 memoir A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan, won the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize.

Nelofer Pazira was at St Thomas University in Fredericton in early November, to deliver the Dalton Camp lecture in Journalism. She came to talk about her experiences reporting from the Middle East, and how western media consistently misses the nuances and shades of grey of a complex region.

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