In 2014, seemingly out of nowhere, a group calling themselves the Islamic State (ISIS) crossed the border from Syria into Iraq where they began a brutal takeover of cities and towns. While ISIS exposed the weakness of the Iraqi Army -- and alerted the world to the expanding crisis in Iraq and Syria -- they also brought into focus the strength of the Kurdish peshmerga, who filled in where the army left. For the first time in a long time the country's largest ethnic minority was discussed on the world stage as heroes and secular allies in a crumbling Middle East. But who are the Kurds? What do they want for their own future? And can they stand up to ISIS?
For four years journalist Jenna Krajeski focused on the Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. She covered stories ranging from a small village's attempt to ward off Exxon-Mobil in northern Iraq; to a 12-year-old girl conducting illegal Kurdish language lessons out of her family home in Diyarbakir; to "Rojava," the center of a Syrian Kurdish revolution; to the Iraqi Kurdish fight against the so-called Islamic State. Her work has appeared online and in print at The New Yorker, The Nation, Harper's, the Virginia Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She is a 2016 Knight-Wallace Fellow in journalism at the University of Michigan.