Seeing is Believing: The Visual Politics of Development and Resource Management

Shepherd, C and Scarf, C 2006, 'Seeing is Believing: The Visual Politics of Development and Resource Management', Visual Anthropology, vol. 19, no. 34, pp. 275-294.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Seeing is Believing: The Visual Politics of Development and Resource Management
Author(s) Shepherd, C
Scarf, C
Year 2006
Journal name Visual Anthropology
Volume number 19
Issue number 34
Start page 275
End page 294
Total pages 20
Publisher Routledge
Abstract In recent times science-based development and resource management have seen a shift from the use of vision and visual representation as an illustrative tool to one of a self-conscious strategy in the rearticulation and extension of objectively knowable worlds to the recipients of development. As images proclaiming objective meaning are projected across cultural and racial divides to transform the knowledge world of subjects from supposed states of situated ignorance to states of universal truth, purveyors of reason and modernity de-naturalize the cultures of Others while naturalising the meanings they uphold as objective, rational, efficient, and so on. Drawing on ethnographic research carried out in Peru, this essay explores the use of visual media in development and its relationship to labor processes and economic integration. The analysis links the traffic of visual media, discourse and metaphoricity to the lives of Andean subjects at a point where visual interpretations diverge in order to highlight the politics of perception that underlies the use of vision and visual representation in development. It is argued that given their frustration in securing the participation of subjects through traditional means, agents for development and resource management in the Andes are using visual media in an effort to sell the culturally-rooted doctrine of objectivity through which subjects are at once rendered distant and conscripted into the arduous labor that rural development and environmental initiatives involve. We conclude that the ontological divisions and simplifications that result from this practice may alienate the supposed beneficiaries of Andean development as much as enroll them into its perceptual politics.
Subject Film, Television and Digital Media not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Science-based development
resource management
vision and visual representation in development
DOI - identifier 10.1080/08949460600656642
ISSN 0894-9468
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