NGO Representation of the 'Other'

International NGOs (more commonly known as charities) - the likes of Oxfam, World Vision, CBM or Unicef - are producing and publishing a continuous stream of visual communication around the kind of work they are engaged in, the projects they fund and the people their work impacts.

Children in rural Niger. Copyright Christoph Ziegenhardt, All rights reserved

These images are mostly targeted at their donor and the public to raise more awareness and funds for their work. In doing so NGOs apply a set of values and worldviews, which of course can be analyzed and scrutinized for what they are - afterall, it is their communication that speak of an NGO's understanding of the 'developing world', the NGO's place in it, the causes and reasons, and the role of the 'developed' world in all this.

In the next weeks, I'll be writing a number of blog article on this topic, looking specifically at NGO representations in communicating hunger, food crises and famine in Africa.

Some of the more problematic frames of representation I'll touch on are: representing Africa as a unified rural entity; the absence of "technology and development", the dominant imagery of women and children and the use of child images as symbolic sufferers. My research also shows shifts in representation of men and the distribution of services and aid.

So stay tuned for some exciting new research insights.

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