“Of Love and War”: Lynsey Addario gives Distinguished Farwell Lecture


Lynsey Addario is an award-winning photojournalist and bestselling author. Addario gave the 2022 Distinguished Farwell Lecture at Luther. Photo courtesy of Luther.edu.

On Thursday, September 15 at 7 p.m., Luther students and members of the Decorah community gathered for a Zoom call with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and New York Times bestselling author, Lynsey Addario. Organized by Director of Campus Programming Kristen Underwood and hosted by Associate Professor of Anthropology Maryna Bazylevych Nading, Addario’s presentation was the first of this year’s Farwell Distinguished Lecture Series.

Addario discussed aspects of her life as a war photographer while she presented a personally curated group of works from various regions of conflict. In her early career, Addario began covering the lives of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule as a freelance photographer. Since then, Addario has covered difficult topics such as conflicts in the Middle East, maternal mortality, and the reality of life in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her photographs capture life continuing on despite the hardships that people are exposed to. 

“Life goes on,” Addario said. “Even in war, and in the darkest of places.” 

Addario’s lecture was attended by students like Siri Hokanson (‘26), who is also a global health major. For Hokanson, the lecture highlighted the need for focusing on the impact of war on the individual, which often gets ignored in the news cycle.

“My biggest takeaway is the lack of focus that is put on refugees,” Hokanson said. “There is a moment in time when everyone is talking about the war that’s going on, and then a week or two passes and it’s not really a thing anymore. [Addario’s work] ultimately brings focus back to the fact that there are people actively dying who did not believe in the war.” 

Because Addario is a war photojournalist, her images are often graphic and disheartening—viewers are forced to see the world in its entirety. This is the perspective that professors at Luther are prompting students to adopt within the campus’ Paideia curriculum. The 2022-2023 Paideia question is: “In a divided society, how do we live in community?” In programming the event, Underwood considered that Addario’s lecture would provide great insight into answering this question.

“Before [Addario’s lecture], I wanted people to have visual images to connect with what they are considering in class,” Underwood said. “What I came away with is not just what it is like to be the people in the photographs, but also what it is like to be her, and what we can do when we leave our homes and go into the world—no matter how small our world is.” 

To view more of Addario’s work, visit her website at https://www.lynseyaddario.com.

For those interested in this year’s Paideia curriculum, on November 8 at 7 p.m., there will be another lecture as part of the “Paideia Text and Issues Lecture Series.” The presenter will be announced at a later date.