NGO Representation of the Other

International NGOs (more commonly known as international charities) 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.

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 publishing 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 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.

Up Next: Thinking about NGO photography (Part 1)
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*This series of articles is based on excerpts from my own Master thesis research ”A New Vision for Africa? An Examination of Representations of African Famine Emergencies and Food Crises by Australian International Non-Governmental Organisations”. The paper is copyright of the author. Any uses are governed by the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act (1968).

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