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A Perspective On South Sudan: Five Pictures About Viewing Starvation

A Perspective On South Sudan: Five Pictures About Viewing StarvationA Perspective On South Sudan: Five Pictures About Viewing StarvationA Perspective On South Sudan: Five Pictures About Viewing StarvationA Perspective On South Sudan: Five Pictures About Viewing StarvationA Perspective On South Sudan: Five Pictures About Viewing Starvation

Even while American news outlets drone on about the November presidential elections at least 4.7 million people in South Sudan are at risk everyday of severe food shortages.  That’s half the population of the newest country in the world, having wrested independence from Sudan. In the Nuba Mountains alone, more than 1million people are starving.

Suffering in the aftermath of famine has turned critical as Sudan has imposed restrictions on food delivery into South Sudan by NGOs and international agencies. Moreover, border skirmishes, tribal clashes–really, armed military interventions from Sudan into sovereign South Sudan in which hundreds of people have been killed– and a choke hold on  South Sudan’s legitimate mineral and oil deposits has forced the severely deprived country into the maw of crippling destitution.

Now, since the so-called civilized countries in the world are standing pat while the tragedy in South Sudan is unfolding, it may be morally problematic to write stories that no one will read, to which nearly no one will respond–after all, advertising dollars seldom flow towards stories about humanitarian crises. The moral issues cuts because replaying and re-arranging stories of suffering may well turn on a certain stripe of voyeuristic viewership and witnessing. Certainly, making images that respond to crises is morally problematic: pictures make suffering seem beautiful since pictures are often taken and arranged through the impulse toward the beautiful. (Perhaps directly staring down a tragedy through beautiful pictures can’t get at the truth; maybe artists need to elide the truth in favor of some necessary distance.)

Still, it is precisely those stories the responses to which are morally problematic, that should– must–demand our attention.

 

Author

Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link: http://blackandwhiteandthings.wordpress.com

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