Anthropology and Photography 2014 (1)

British Museum, Clore Centre, 29-31 May 2014

(P07)

Images and Human Rights: Local and Global Perspectives through the creation and distribution of the visual

Location Sackler B
Date and Start Time 29 May, 2014 at 11:00

Convenor

Nancy Lipkin Stein (Florida Atlantic University)  email
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Short Abstract

This panel explores issues of creation, distribution, and control of images through official and unofficial sources asking what impact that has had on human rights.

Long Abstract

What images are relevant to the framing of human rights, and who decides? Television, print, and social media, contribute to how we see ourselves and others. We experience the world on many levels, but the rise of visual communication plays a significant role in shaping what we know and when we know it. This panel explores issues of creation, distribution, and control of images through official and unofficial sources asking what impact that has had on human rights. What are the ethical implications of tying such images to people and places? These questions range from the scholarly to the activists, spanning visual research methodologies, to everyday sources of information.

Discussant: Alison Dundes Renteln

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

A Different Lens: Social Movement Cultures and the Visual Ethnographies of Diana Davies and Robert Houston

Author: Aaron Bryant (Smithsonian Institution) email

Short Abstract

This paper will apply theories and methods in ethnography and social movement analysis to examine a selection of images by photographers Diana Davies and Robert Houston. Davies and Houston captured the photographs during Martin Luther King, Jr.'s final protest movement, the Poor People's Campaign.

Long Abstract

This paper will apply theories and methods in ethnography and social movement analysis to examine a selection of photographs by Diana Davies and Robert Houston. Through images of cultural production captured during Martin Luther King's final protest movement, the Poor People's Campaign, this paper will contextualize the connections each photographer made between their work and the ethnography of social movement cultures.

In 1967, against the backdrop of the United States (U.S.) as one of the richest nations in the world, millions of Americans lived in poverty. Seeing this as an injustice in a nation of means and prosperity, King began a national crusade against legislation he believed stood between "the American dream" and the nation's realities. Taking his cause nationwide, King launched a national tour to recruit participants for his poverty movement. The campaign would bring poor communities from across the country to Washington, D.C. to protest the U.S. government for laws that guaranteed equal economic opportunities to every U.S. citizen.

Davies and Houston photographed the campaign. Living among protesters in a tent-city protest encampment, they recorded the movement and the daily lives of demonstrators. While the media propagated heightened images of confrontation during the civil rights movement, Davies and Houston viewed the movement from a different perspective. They studied the everyday moments of movement cultures and the quiet resistance in everyday lives.

Revelatory in their insight and approach, Davies and Houston saw civil and human rights through a different lens.

Photo-activisms of the south: two perspectives on the use of photography for political purposes

Author: Fabiene Gama (Universidade de Brasíla ) email

Short Abstract

This paper will focus on the performance of two groups of photographers from the "Global South". Through a comparative analysis, I'll reflect on how different groups use photographs for a political action pro-human rights worldwide.

Long Abstract

To produce photographs, therefore representations, is a process of construction of reality by an individual. Historically, the photographer belongs to a superior class to the one portrayed that ends up being an object in the representation. Fighting to reverse power-relations through representations, two groups of photographers from different parts of the Global South are questioning representations made of them. Representing their groups to participate politically in contemporary societies, these photo-activists point to an important space of resistance: culture, presented by its members. This paper will focus on the performance of two groups that aims to change negative images people have of them. One, a Brazilian group of photographers from Rio's favelas, deal with a process of criminalization of poverty that causes a series of interventions of the State, through the police, in their neighbourhood. These conflicts generate various types of violence: symbolic, physical and lethal. The other, a Bangladeshi group based in a middle class neighbourhood in Dhaka, is concerned about the image the 'West' has about them. The image of poor and hungry victims of the tragedies got even worst after the 9/11, when they also came to be seen also as potential Muslim terrorists. How these photographers react through photos to troublesome representations (whether an ethnicity, a religion or a social class) is the subject of this discussion. Through a cross-cultural comparison, I will reflect on how these photographers use feelings of deprivation, injustice and exclusion to build new forms of protests and fight for Human Rights.

Compassion or Stigma? How Disability Rights International (DRI) Navigates the Divide

Author: Anastasia Klupchak (Emory University ) email

Short Abstract

This paper investigates photographs produced and disseminated by disability-focused human rights organizations. In particular, I examine Disability Rights International as a case-study and entry-point into the complicated landscape of framing the extraordinary body for interest groups.

Long Abstract

In a social-media inundated visual terrain, global human rights organizations must employ visual methods to communicate basic human rights violations. Disability Rights International (DRI) and other disability-focused activist groups traverse a fine line, navigating ethically fraught terrain in the production and distribution of photographs of people with disabilities. Are there alternative modes of production capable of enacting the agentive force of people with disabilities, while at the same time raising global awareness to the lived experience of those institutionally abused? This paper examines recent photographs from Tbilisi, Georgia of children in "warehouse institutions," disseminated by DRI, and the implications of such photographs in shaping perceptions surrounding the stigmatized disabled body and the disabled body that evokes care and compassion. To contextualize the images being used by DRI, I turn to the history of images of people with disabilities to draw out the importance of the contemporary instantiation of extraordinary bodies in human rights photography.

Tibet and China: The Fight for Human RIghts

Author: Falon Velez (Florida Atlantic University) email

Short Abstract

None provided.

Long Abstract

None provided.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.