My recent late night solo-conversations have included thoughts about minority communities. As a caucasian male my present and my history is saturated with power – I am part of a global demographic that has never been through a struggle for recognition. We have always been in the favourable position, on the winning side. It is easy to take this position for granted. And I suppose I do. Dynamic minority communities are swallowed up by the majority – simplified and ignored. In New Zealand’s urban centres, where we praise our multiculturalism, minorities are lumped together rather than recognised for their diversity and complexity. Samoans, Tongans, Rarotongans, Niueans, Fijians are lumped together under the banner “P.I.s” without proper recognition of their individual cultures. The same attitude is applied to most if not all minority communities in New Zealand. Cultures become homogenised, losing their intricacies and nuances. It is worse in other areas of the world; communities are being forgotten altogether.

The Autumn 2010 issue of Granta (Pakistan) features a Pakistani artist, Bani Abidi, whose photos comment on the increasingly ethnic, religious and cultural homogeneity of her home country and of the world in general. Her photos put it much more eloquently than these or other words can:

Chandra Acharya, 7.50 p.m., 30 August 2008, Ramadan, Karachi

Jerry Fernadez, 7.45 p.m., 21 August 2008, Ramadan, Karachi

Jacky Mirza, 7.45 p.m., 26 August 2008, Ramadan, Karachi

The exhibition notes read:

A sideways glance at a growing manifestation of ethnic, religious and cultural homogeneity in an erstwhile cosmopolitan space. The photographs in ‘Karachi – Series 1’ hypothesize a silent moment when the original denizens of the city step out of their homes to lay claim to a space that is also theirs. Shot at dusk during the month of Ramadan, when most Muslims of the city are breaking their fasts with their evening meal, the artist contemplates the vast emptiness of the city streets and imagines them to be inhabited differently.

Check her out at: www.baniabidi.com

My parents and grandparents lament the loss of the milk’s cream-top  in favour of homogenisation. History is repeating itself…

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