Ep. 34: Travel photography, power, and post-colonialism

In this episode, lecturer in Pakistan Studies, Sonia Gulzeb Abbasi, takes us through a tour of the background history of travel photography in the Middle East and Africa and its potential link to modern day notions of power and post-colonialism. Nowadays a very common motif for bloggers on social media sites like Instagram, she advises listeners to pay attention to the ethical implications behind travel photography, especially when Western photographers avoid photographic consent and profit from ‘othering’ minors. This deep dive into concerns surrounding ‘poverty porn’ and the ‘white saviour complex’ is designed to critique how Westerners choose to portray and make sense of other cultures, focusing more on their negative aspects rather than celebrating their cultural positives.

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Additional reading:

Photography as a Tool of Power and Subjugation: How the Camera was Used to Justify Black Racial Inferiority: https://www.sacredfootsteps.org/2020/06/08/photography-as-a-tool-of-power-and-subjugation-how-the-camera-was-used-to-justify-black-racial-inferiority/

These Algerian women were forced to remove their veils to be photographed in 1960 (2016): https://timeline.com/photos-women-french-algeria-98ee46628854

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