Stereotypes

At the South Asian Journalists Association convention this past week, I had an opportunity to hear Ross Kauffman (2005 Oscar winner for “Born into Brothels“) and Roberto Romano (“Stolen Childhoods“) speak about the filming and editing process of their documentaries. I also heard Shahidul Alam, a leading Bangladeshi photojournalist, talk about his experience taking photographs of Muslims, and other South Asian people.

What struck me about the work of Kauffman and Alam work overall, is that they showed children in their own environment–doing what they do–and they let that do the talking about their conditions rather than any heavy-handed images of people suffering. Alam was especially sensitive about showing “Brown” people living their lives rather than showing them the way the Western media normally wants to see them: almost always in dramatic images of suffering.

Srinivas and I also hold that it is best to show the richness of people’s daily lives, the kind we see in the smallest interaction. The trick will be to balance that with the global implications that are winding their way into the issue…weaving it in so people can contrast the daily lives with the social and economic politicis in the background.

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