13 January 2007

Gianni Dal Mas - "Illegal Portraits"

This poster announces an exhibition that is now over, sponsored by Amnesty International, consisting of portraits taken by Italian photographer Gianni Dal Mas of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic who, having illegally immigrated to take jobs cutting cane under appalling conditions, also are denied basic human rights. So the exhibition title does not imply that Dal Mas's images themselves are illegal but that the subjects of his portraits are. You can find some of his photographs from this project as well as texts sketching the political-economic context here and here.


PS: (Added 1/14/07) - In his comment on this post Jon Anderson notes a couple of related undertakings that you might want to track down. The first is a web page created by Celine Anaya Gautier and some collaborators called "Esclaves au Paradis: Projet International sur Esclavage Contemporain" focusing on the impromtu villages or "Bateys" that cane workers inhabit in the Dominican Republic. The second is an as yet unreleased documentary by Eric Grunebaum called "The Price of Sugar."

For myself, I would add that if you are interested in the political-economy of sugar production, perhaps the best place to start is with this book by historical anthropologist Sidney Mintz, Sweetness & Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (Penguin 1986). And in case you think the political-economy of sugar is too many places to the right of the decimal point to bother with, this recent note by James Suroweicki in The New Yorker sketches some reasons why you are mistaken. Put otherwise, you may not care about slavery and human rights in the developing world, but perhaps you will care about the more or less direct costs to you.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very Pleased to see you post this, Jim. This is the very work I am doing myself, and the last grant I received was intended to circulate a similar show round the Dominican Republic in order to bring the news back home, so to speak. With my current grant, I will be finishing that project, Caña Brava, finally and creating a comprehensive website dedicated to collecting together in one spot all matters related to the bateys. Gianni, myself, and several other photojournalists will all have a presence on there, as well as other journalists, social scientists, NGOs, activists, doctors, etc. I just spent the weekend putting the shell of the website together and when it is up, I will advise you of the fact. It will take some time to provide all the content, which will be massive. In addition to Caña Brava, presently Celine Anaya Gautier with a French team is working on Esclaves au Paradis (http://www.esclavesauparadis.org/), and Eric Grunebaum of Uncommon Productions has an excellent film coming out, The Price of Sugar (www.uncommonproductions.com)

14 January, 2007 08:25  

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