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Arts & CultureSociety

Visualising Africa at Diaspora Expense?

How and why humanitarian organisations ignore diaspora audiences in their 'ethical' communications.

Critical commentaries on visual constructions of distant suffering within studies of humanitarian communication have critiqued and problematised how INGOs frame Black and Brown distant ‘Others’.

However, much focus has been on the implications of these mediated imageries for overseas communities, while African diaspora have received much less attention. African diaspora are critical in current debates around representation, especially given increased criticisms around the ethicality of INGO fundraising communications for UK-situated Black racialised publics.

This project thus complicates existing debates by repositioning the empirical preoccupation with distant Others ‘over there’, towards UK-situated African diaspora ‘over here’.

Using interview evidence with UK-based INGO professionals involved in the production and dissemination of imageries of humanitarian issues, it explores how INGOs construe African diaspora populations in considerations around, and implications of, the ethicality of their communications.

Revealing that African diaspora are largely absent or ‘afterthoughts’ in INGO consciousness and practices for three central reasons. 1) They are not considered distinct and differentiated donor audiences worthy of strategic prioritisation 2) Implicit professional/organisational ‘whiteness’ limits reflexive foresight of potential implications (negative or positive) of communications for diaspora 3) INGOs temporise over the (im)practicalities of ‘diaspora inclusive’ agendas for ethical communication.

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator