kottke.org posts about Duncan McNicholl

Perspectives of PovertyJun 09 2010

Frustrated with the carefully chosen photos of Africans "dressed in rags, smothered in flies, with [looks] of desperation" used to symbolize poverty by development organizations, Duncan McNicholl has started a photography project in which he takes two photos of a person: one in a typical poverty pose and the other with the person "looking their very finest".

The truth is that the development sector, just like any other business, needs revenue to survive. Too frequently, this quest for funding uses these kind of dehumanizing images to draw pity, charity, and eventually donations from a largely unsuspecting public. I found it outrageous that such an incomplete and often inaccurate story was being so widely perpetuated by the organizations on the ground -- the very ones with the ability and the responsibility to communicate the realities of rural Africa accurately.

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