Imaging Famine is a research project that examines how famine has been historically pictured in the media, from the nineteenth century to the present day.
The project began as a photographic exhibition at the Guardian and Observer Newsroom and Archive in London in August/September 2005 to mark the twentieth anniversary of ‘Band Aid’ and ‘Live Aid’ as well as the ‘Live 8’ event of that summer. It was summarised in a 24 page catalogue, and accompanied by public lectures and a major conference.
The project deals with the persistence of a famine iconography regardless of time and place. It traces the emergence of those images historically – considering the relationship between anthropology and photography, and the way photography has been a technology of colonialism – to pose the question of photography’s political effects.
The project seeks to move debate of these issues beyond the unhelpful distinction of positive versus negative imagery, and confront the morally complex political question: what if the stereotypical images of starving children remain the images most capable of mobilising a response?
The project continued through the Imaging Famine blog (May 2010-2013) which aggregated and curated material on the imaging of famine and the revisualization of ‘Africa’ and the majority world.