Bound Volume Number
Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Prof. Mike Davis
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Diaspora Times Two is a photographic journalistic study of Africans living in Guangzhou, China and Chinese in Accra, Ghana. The study focuses on two young men from the Gambia who are looking for low-wage work in Guangzhou and a house of five Chinese telecommunications workers employing Ghanaians in Accra. A micro approach was taken, seeking similarities and differences between the immigrants, making images that record details not found in a general photographic survey of the areas. The project brings together stories collected from both Africans and Asians, providing insights into the process of international relocation driven by economic challenges and opportunities.
Diaspora Times Two is inspired by the work of Eugene Richards who builds brilliant compositions, pushing the edges and frame. Furthermore it draws significantly on the works of Gordon Parks. Alex Webb’s use of different elements to create a dynamic set of layers afforded a framework with which to recognize and make the opening image of the series of the two Ghanaian workers and three Chinese employers animating this project.
I made connections in China on an earlier visit, however once on location I needed to adapt after learning that they would not work out; I was left on my own to go out into the field and make new contacts with potential subjects. In Ghana, I realized the need for a Chinese translator after discovering the difficulty of communicating and connecting with the Chinese community. Ghanaians and Chinese experienced similar communication difficulties reinforcing stereotypes and assumptions held by the one group about the other. These beliefs generally stopped people from connecting; however, when dialogue occurred, resultant insights broke down stereotypes and barriers between people. Discovery of beliefs held in common included how the Chinese, Gambians, and Ghanaians share a moral commitment to taking care of their parents or elders.
The Chinese are building roads, universities helping to develop many African countries. China’s investment in Africa raises the question: Is China the new face of neocolonialism or will China avoid the mistakes of western colonial powers? It remains to be seen, but my research suggests that on a micro, person-to-person level, communication and dialogue is a first step toward breaking down cultural barriers and discovering common fundamental dreams, values, and hopes that can serve as a foundation for strong partnerships.
Cleeton, Benjamin, "Diaspora Times Two" (2015). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 895.
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