Photographer challenges visual stereotypes of the developing world
A doctoral researcher and documentary photographer at the University of Sussex claims that many humanitarian and media organisations working in Africa are using stereotyped and de-contextualised images of the continent in their fundraising appeals and reporting.
Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin, who has worked on a number of child photography projects with UNICEF, hopes for a future when children from the Global South will no longer be portrayed as “spectacles of pity” by the media and by international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).
Now, through visual ethnography and “photovoice” images by Nigerian children who have been displaced by militant organization Boko Haram, Tunde seeks to challenge stereotyping and oversimplifying media representations of children from the Global South.
A new exhibition, Utopia, captures his key themes of hope and resilience with photos of and by children living in a camp for internally displaced persons in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Having been forcefully evicted from their homes in Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists - who have also abducted hundreds of schoolchildren, killed tens of thousands of people and bombed major cities - the children hope for a brighter future.
Through the photos they took with Tunde, they revealed that they look forward to a Utopian future, where they would live in good houses, have access to adequate sanitary facilities and receive a sound education.
Tunde says: “Utopia creates a counter-narrative to the problematic representations of children from the Global South in many charity representations.
“It explores the themes of race, representation, resilience, conviviality, migration, enterprise, imperfection, and beauty - challenging the visual stereotypes of the developing world in global development discourse.
“The exhibition features the photovoice images of these resilient children, enabling them to tell their own stories.”
Tunde’s study will be on display 11am–5 pm Wednesday-Sunday, from 1-19 August, by the south gallery of Phoenix Brighton.
Tunde previously completed an MA in Media Practice for Development & Social Change at the University of Sussex before embarking on his doctoral research. Funded by a Chancellor’s International Research Scholarship, it questions the objectification narratives of children from the Global South as victims of poverty, war, disaster and ill health.
One of his photos, ‘Tug of Fun’, took first prize in the ‘fieldwork’ category of the University’s recent Research Image Competition, when doctoral researchers were asked to submit a single image providing a visual perspective of their research.
The photo exhibition is supported by the University of Sussex Researcher Development Programme’s Public Engagement Fund.