Archive for the ‘Postcolonialism’ Category
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie shares her thoughts about how popular stories may create one-sided, single, images about places and individuals. These ‘single stories’, she argues, lead to misunderstanding the complexity of the lives of others; it emphasises difference and robs people of their dignity.
She beautifully illustrates this with stories of her own life and argues that we need a balance of stories between the culturally and economically powerful and those whose stories often remain unheard.
This piece should be read by every Hollywood actor, adventure travel writer and aid-worker out there who talks about “Africa”.
Interestingly, the video was produced for (red)wire, the online plattform of Bono.
You must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. She can have no past, no history; such diversions ruin the dramatic moment.
I wonder if Bono has ever read this text himself and if it made any impression on him, since his often patronizing “I am the voice of the starving Africa” posture might well have been a basis the for Wainaina’s text.
A great post by Robert Hariman published at Sociological Images. Hariman compares two photographs of the Iranian New Year celebrations in Afghanistan and Iran. Like I described in a previous post, this example also reveals how western orientalist preconceptions are reflected in photography:
Hariman writes that:
That image is one of throngs of working class men massed together in the street. What little business is there is in the open air markets lining each side of the densely packed urban space. We see small batches of everyday goods on display–probably to be bartered for, no less. The open baskets of food are a sure marker of the underdeveloped world.[…] Everything fits together into a single narrative, but the masses of men and boys make the scene politically significant. This is the place where collective delusions take hold, where mobs are formed, and where unrest can explode into revolutionary violence and Jihad.
Here he writes:
In this photo, there is no Arab street nor Iranian masses dominated by Mullahs and demagogues. A middle class tableau reveals that so much of what is in fact ordinary life for many people in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East is never seen in the US. And it isn’t seen because it doesn’t fit into simplistic categories, outdated stereotypes, and a dominant ideology. All that is shown and implied in the cliches is of course also there, but it is there as part of a much more complex and varied social reality.