World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Survival Attacks Jimmy Nelson’s Portrayal of Tribes


June 2, 2014

Survival attacks photographer Jimmy Nelson’s portrayal of tribes

The work of famed photographer Jimmy Nelson, creator of coffee-table book “Before They Pass Away”, has been attacked in a new exposé by Survival International Director Stephen Corry as “hubristic baloney” which presents a false and damaging picture of tribal peoples.

Nelson writes that his recent $150 book of “portraits” of tribal people was motivated by the desire to “search for ancient civilizations… and document their purity in places where untouched culture still exists”. The “cultures” he found are supposedly “unchanged for thousands of years”.

But Corry denounces the work as a photographer’s fantasy, bearing little relationship either to how the people pictured look now, or to how they’ve ever appeared.

The photos of Waorani girls from Ecuador, for example, portray them shorn of the clothes that contacted Waorani routinely wear, and wearing “fig” leaves to protect their modesty, which they have never done (previous generations of Waorani women wore a simple waist string). Corry writes that Nelson not only presents a fictionalized portrait of tribal people, but glosses over the genocidal violence to which many of the tribes pictured are being subjected, and even pretends that such tribes can be “saved” from the “inevitability” of “passing away” simply by being photographed.

Corry said today, "Given how much publicity Jimmy Nelson’s book has had, I think it’s important to expose the work for the damaging fantasy it is, because it ignores the crimes being committed against these peoples in the name of ‘progress’. No mention, for example, in the description of Ethiopia’s Mursi tribe, of the forced relocation, beatings, assaults and disappearances to which they’re being subjected.

“No mention, in the description of Tibetans, of China’s brutal oppression. No mention of the estimated 100,000 Papuans who have died since Indonesia’s ruthless occupation. No, the tribes are simply, inevitably, ‘passing away’. That’s dangerous claptrap which plays into the hands of all those who want them to ‘pass away’ as quickly as possible.”


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>


Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news