Representing Global Poverty
I’m looking forward to reading Nandita Dogra’s Representations of Global Poverty: Aid, Development and International NGOs, as the reviews for it are quite intriguing. In this book Dogra, a postdoctoral fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, explores the messages that the communications and imagery produced and used by international development NGOs send about the global South, its people, and poverty.
Rachel Tallon, a doctoral candidate in development studies at Victoria University of Wellington, has reviewed the work for NZADDs. She says:
Most NGOs are acutely aware that despite the global accessibility of the Internet age, their media channels are still an influential lens by which Northern publics ‘see’ and learn about what is happening in the South. In her book, Dogra gives a good round up of the key issues and moves beyond the negative/positive image dichotomy. . . . [H]er main argument is that NGOs collectively send out two main messages that contradict each other. Through their advertising and campaign work, she argues that they both ‘distance’ the Other and yet seek to present the world and humanity as ‘one’. This is problematic as the audience is positioned differently with each message – are we like them or different? Giving actual examples from UK NGO campaigns, Dogra shows how powerful (and contradictory) these messages about the South can be. . . . What is actually signified by a poster, by an advert on TV? Dogra points out that what is often signified is distance and difference – that ‘they’ are just so far away from us that all we can do is give them our spare change. . . . Increasingly, the power of NGOs, their messages and representations of the South are under scrutiny and Dogra’s book is essential reading for all those interested in media, development, campaigning and marketing. Every NGO campaigner should have a copy; they need to be aware of their power. Their power not just to raise millions of dollars in funding but their power in forming perceptions of the Other that mean that they stay as ‘Other’.