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Geography Seminar:

Geography Seminar:
Mr James Macadam

Mr Macadam hosted the first of this half’s series of seminars on Wednesday 20 January. The title was “The Sinister Side of David Attenborough,” which, like most of the rest of the talk, was an intentionally provocative way of approaching the damage that can be done by the media cultivating a false view of Africa.

JCM argued that what we think of as the “real” Africa is not one that its inhabitants would recognise, but that potentially damaging national parks have been set up all across the continent to cater for this idealised image that Westerners come to see. David Attenborough is the most high-profile of those promulgating the myth, which stretches back to colonial times, though JCM was keen to stress that he was sure that the naturalist was acting out of the purest of motives… JCM’s discussion of the Darfur crisis, where the UN’s assumption that the problem was an ethnic one had turned ethnicity into an issue for the first time in the area, was particularly thought-provoking.

As had been hoped, the seminar developed into a pleasantly informal debate. The attending boys were divided between the strengths and problems of rally marches, with JCM saying that the misguided “feel-good” attitude of campaigners could actually be detrimental. Several boys defended David Attenborough as making films about nature, not Africa. In the end, we all left feeling that the debate had opened up a number of interesting issues.

 Ollie Randall (RJM)


DATE POSTED: 20 January 2010

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