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Black Man's Burden - a photo essay by Leigh Matthews
Leigh Matthews is a photographer, a writer and humanitarian social worker from Colorado. She recently graduated with a BA degree in International Comparative Politics from The American University of Paris, where she left her mark by signing many articles in the student's newspaper The Planet. She then obtained a Master's degree from the Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University in the Hague, Netherlands. She has acquired great field experience while working in French-speaking Africa from where she also brought a rich collection of photographs. The following is a photographic essay or an illustrated poem in prose that reveals at the same time her sensitivity towards the local populations but also her self-criticism, her refusal of all sentimentality and her harsh comments on modern humanitarian Western values as the politically correct version of old colonial and missionary paternalism. Her images present a highly interesting paradox. They range from the highly beautiful to the bleak, from the highly professional style demanded by the great magazines printed on glossy paper, to the deliberately out-of-focus and "unprofessional" - which must be interpreted as a provocation given Leigh's mastering of the technical rules of photography and the possibility to simply not use what some would consider as flawed photographs ("squint to blur the scene" she tells her reader in the poem "Texas"). Also her most glamorous pictures are often followed by very sad comments. This book, a very personal document which we just discovered in the author's archives is in the spirit of the geographic magazine "with an attitude" that we wish N&C to be known for. "Black Man's Burden is presented here in the original layout of its pages as it should appear printed on paper, as originally planned by Leigh for non-commercial distribution to friends. We have added captions for comfortable visualization of the text. the N&C staff
In Issue 2 (Fall 2014): the Ukraine, Russian geography, conflicts over water and many, many more features. To receive notification of its release, go to N&C's Facebook page and sign up (Issue 1 will remain available on a special archives section).
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