Pictures of Places

During the second week of March, a display of photographs from Palestine was on display in the Campus Center; however, possibly because I initially didn’t know what to make of it, I didn’t pay much attention. But on the final day the exhibit was up, I noticed something. I noticed a pine-cone, and other naturalistic imagery. I was considerably surprised when I found out that the country on display was Palestine. I thought the exhibit to be an interesting experience, causing me to realize how ignorant my, and likely other people’s, preconceived notions of what countries outside of the elitist tier of the “First World” U.S. is comprised of. When I think of the Middle East, I tend to lump the countries together into one desolate colossus of desert. It is tempting to do this because this is likely the sole image that I (and other Americans) am bombarded with and hence what we call upon in our recollections when creating associations with the Middle East. It may serve as a potential reason to pride ourselves as a developed nation.

Similarly, the tendency is great to simply associate Africa with AIDS and malnourished children, and not the lush images of palaces and flourishing cities that populate the country. The Facebook group “The Africa They Never Show You” has compiled over a thousand photographs of various locales in Africa, presenting an image of the country most Americans never associate the country with.

So why is the popular conception of these countries one that is much worse off than reality reflects? Is it solely our elitism and need to have this subservient relationship with these countries so, in comparison, our culture appears better in spite of its flaws? An important note to realize is that as America is not simply overrun by obese, ignorant people, as other countries may perceive us to be. Conversely, these one-dimensional views of countries that are not in the “First World” are incorrect as well--they are not a point that we can conveniently stop at and cease all analysis.
--Cassandra Leveille