Somaliland Number Plates

by Amber Terranova

Since 2008, Narayan Mahon has been taking photographs in the unrecognized states of Somaliland (a region of Somalia), Nagorno-Karabakh (a region of Azerbaijan), Transnistria (a region of Moldova), Northern Cyprus (a region of Cyprus), and Abkhazia (a region of Georgia), for a series called “Lands in Limbo.” Mahon, who is based in Madison, Wisconsin, is interested in what happens to these regions after they declare independence and their citizens, who often live in poverty, must redefine their cultural identity.

Of these de-facto states, Mahon says that Somaliland is the easiest to work in, largely because of how relatively effectively its government and society function. His photographs of Somaliland convey the isolation of the state, as well as the flavor of everyday life there. He told me, “In all of these places, people accept their position in the world: We are here, no one will recognize us, but we are just going to keep our heads down. Maybe one day it will happen; there’s an outlook of it being a long game that they are playing. They are convinced that they are right to break away. Waiting has hardened their belief of righteousness.”

Source: The New Yorker