Poverty Pornography

I believe that media are thirsting for public attention, and are thirsting over the pornography of poverty. Before I begin, let me ask you a question: Have you ever heard of poverty pornography? According to MATT (2009), the poverty pornography, also known as development porn, is defined as filmed- or photographed media, which exploit poverty. These are often used to create public sympathy and empathy, which are helpful in increasing charitable donations, or selling more newspapers (MATT 2009).

Picture 1.0 – Starving boy and a missionary (image credits: Maria Teresa Santos)

This is not a new thing as there are many identifiable poverty pornographies. First, I would like to discuss about the napalm girl. I believe that this photo is one of the most famous photographs in the history of war photography. This Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, that was taken by an AP photographer Nick Ut, contains the terror of war (AP 2017). This promoted anti-Vietnam war movements in the United States during the period from 1964 to 1973.

Picture 2.0 – Vietnam Napalm 1972 (image credits: AP Images)

Rural poverty in Africa is also often used by numerous media. Do you recognise this photograph? This photo was taken by Kevin Carter, and is also one of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs (The New York Time Company 2009). The photographer has been criticised for standing by and doing nothing. However, the truth is, he chased the vulture after taking some more photos (Rare Historical Photos 2013a). Rare Historical Photos (2013a) states that, “he took a few more photos before chasing the bird away”. Unfortunately, the South African photographer Kevin Carter committed suicide in the same year he won the Pulitzer Prize (Rare Historical Photos 2013a). Perhaps this has been criticised because not all photos tell background stories.

Picture 3.0 – Starvation in Sudan (image credits: Kevin Carter)

And this photograph is perhaps the most well-known poverty pornography these days. The photograph is also known as the death of Aylan Kurdi (Fantz 2015). A Syrian refugee family Aylan Kurdi’s family was dreaming of a new life in a new land. Unfortunately, the dream has gone because of the miserable incident. A toddler was just two years old.

Even though the poverty pornography has been criticised, some say that the poverty pornography is necessary. The Highway of Death that was taken by Ken Jarecke during the Iraq War in 1991 is one that contains the terror of war. According to Rare Historical Photos (2013b), Ken Jarecke said that, “but if I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies”. This showed very clearly why war was a terrible thing. However, according to Rare Historical Photos (2013b), the majority of American media declined to publish that photograph. This is perhaps because the American media learnt something during the Vietnam War.

As mentioned previously, some argue that the so-called poverty pornography is helpful in raising awareness about poverty, aiding poor- and miserable people, and ending poverty. However, some disagree with that. Young (1997) argues that publics would see problems rather than solutions, and they see the Third World as a place of misery. I completely agree with that. I believe that the first thought that comes to our mind when we see African countries is hunger, HIV/AIDS, and orphans instead of solutions, such as charitable donations.

How are poor- and miserable people portrayed on media? Perhaps they are misrepresented as lazy people, or terrorists. Who is identifying these people? Or is it made by themselves? Of course, I do not think so. This is created by someone looking for excessive public attention, including media, journalists, and non-government organisations (NGO). For instance, as monetary donations are somewhat important for NGOs, the organisations focus on publishing the so-called poverty pornography. Perhaps merchandising poverty is another name of the poverty pornography. What if an individual commercialises poverty so as to get any monetary benefit? I believe that Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is a bad- and sick movie.


AP 2017, PHOTOGRAPHER NICK UT: THE NAPALM GIRL, viewed 25 March 2017, <http://www.apimages.com/Collection/Landing/Photographer-Nick-Ut-The-Napalm-Girl-/ebfc0a860aa946ba9e77eb786d46207e>.

Fantz, A 2015, ‘Syrian toddler’s dad: ‘Everything I was dreaming of is gone’’, CNN, 4 September, viewed 25 March, <http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/03/europe/migration-crisis-aylan-kurdi-turkey-canada/>.

MATT 2009, What is ‘poverty porn’ and why does it matter for development?, viewed 25 March 2017, <http://aidthoughts.org/?p=69>.

Rare Historical Photos 2013a, The vulture and the little girl, viewed 25 March 2017, <http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/vulture-little-girl/>.

Rare Historical Photos 2013b, The Death of an Iraqi soldier, Highway of Death, 1991, viewed 25 March 2017, <http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/dont-photograph-people-like-mom-will-think-war-see-tv-gulf-war-1991/>.

The New York Time Company 2009, why didn’t he help the little girl, they asked, viewed 25 March 2017, <http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/04/15/arts/15jaar_CA0.ready.html>.

Young, E 1997, ‘Strategies of Public Engagement’, in Strategies of Public Engagement, McGill-Queen’s University Press, pp. 155-172.


Audiences, Interviewees & Collaborative Media Ethnography

According to Fetterman (1998), a term ‘ethnography’ can be defined as the activity of documenting routine of people’s daily lives, and exploring cultural characteristics of group. Besides, Neuman (2007) defined ‘ethnography’ as “describing and understanding another way of life from the native point of view”. Then, what is the meaning of ‘collaborative’? According to Oxford Dictionaries written by Oxford University Press (2016), a term ‘collaborative’ means “something produced by or involving two or more parties working together”.

This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and its author is anonymous.

Ethnography is about to identify behaviour patterns, and to make readers understand the perspective of the native to the culture studied, and context, complexity, and politics of social processes. The processes of conducting ethnography is: firstly, identifying problem or topics of interest, fieldwork (data collection and analysis), participant observation, individuals and groups, analysis, and lastly presenting a report.

There are a number of the potential advantages and disadvantages of collaborative media ethnography. Firstly, let’s talk about the potential advantages. The most interesting point might be that creating a better understanding of others’ cultures would be one of the advantages of the term ‘collaborative media ethnography’. By setting the goals and objectives of studying the collaborative media ethnography, I believe that there might be the potential advantage that he/she can have a better understanding of others’ cultures that he/she never experienced before.

The second potential advantage of the collaborative media ethnography would be the acquisition of in-depth understanding of a culture among people. By conducting the collaborative media ethnography, it is expected that extensive knowledge about others’ cultures might be gained via detailed, vailed, and correct interpretations. Besides, by doing the collaborative media ethnography, this would give an opportunity to people and their cultures to represent people’s views of cultural knowledge that might not be heard before.

On the other hand, there are also a number of potential disadvantages of the collaborative media ethnography. The first potential challenge would be that the media ethnography might require additional time, efforts, and costs when this is compared to quantitative research. Which means qualitative research requires more resources than the quantitative research. Furthermore, findings and results are not generalizable, as sample sizes are small and limited. Another potential challenges would be that one of participants might not be neutralized, and this can result in affecting other participants, and results and findings.

Without any intention, we subconsciously do this type of experiment every day. For instance, we see what people wear, eat, do, and talk on crowded street. Thus, it can be defined that we all can be researchers, regardless of goals and objectives of a study. However, this is somewhat complexed and advanced in terms of academic and professional experiment.


Fetterman, DM 1998, Ethnography: step by step / by David M. Fetterman, Thousand Oaks, California.

Neuman, WL 2007, Basics of Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Allyn & Bacon, Boston.

Oxford University Press 2016, Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford Dictionaries, viewed 18 August 2016, <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/collaborative>.

Defining the internationalisation of higher education in Malaysia, and profit-making

Education Malaysia
“Amazing Malaysia Awaits You” – Education Malaysia (EMGS)

“Studying in Malaysia offers you the opportunity to acquire an internationally recognised qualification of your choice within an affordable budget. There are students from more than 100 countries studying in Malaysia, pursuing courses ranging from diplomas and degrees to Masters and PhDs at universities, colleges and foreign university branch campuses. Their choice of Malaysia as the place to acquire a globally-recognised academic qualification is a strong indicator of their confidence in the country as an education hub” (Education Malaysia Global Services 2012, pg. 1)

Over 100,000 overseas students in Malaysia have boarded with bringing the objectives, taking internationalized education for their careers, also preparing against the flow of the Era of Globalization; furthermore, there are thousands overseas students who are willing to consider and board for taking the globalized education in Malaysia with the cheaper costs compared to other developed countries where are widely known as the destination of education such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. In other words; the country, Malaysia is becoming famous nowadays as the destination of education hub, comparable to the other host countries as shown above.

On the other side, the Government of Malaysia is promoting the education industries to earn the independent profits from the source of education industries for earning foreign currencies, leading to fill the financial budget of the government; thus, all these are related to business without any exceptions at all.

Beyond all the known facts, the main objective of business is all about making profits; furthermore, the business is not about the charity work. Therefore, education is one of consistent leading to make profits. Which means, the internationalisation of higher education in Malaysia cannot be blamed for making profits; and, this was set to satisfy what consumers the students demand. Accordingly, the government of Malaysia is recently trying to innovate the education system of Malaysia to tempt students to abroad in Malaysia. For a reference, the Department of Education of Malaysia newly has founded and set-up the organization ‘Education Malaysia Global Services (abbreviated as EMGS)’ to fluently process the admissions and the visa applications of foreign students, admitting to the local institutions in Malaysia (however, reports directly indicate that there are the side-effects mainly caused by the foundation of EMGS, added unnecessary spends and costs; in the result, the overseas students face the problems).

The other efforts of Malaysian Government are as following below:

  1. Adopting the standardized international qualifications such as GCE A-level and International Baccalaureate Diploma into the local institutions’ curriculums in Malaysia
  2. The local-placed undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, collaborated with overseas institutions and universities
  3. Foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia
  4. Developing the foreigner-friendly environment in several cultural aspects
  5. Investments to the education infrastructures

The advantages what the Malaysian Government earns are:

  1. Improving the national image of Malaysia
  2. Maximizing the government budget, independently sourced from the overseas students

The advantages what the overseas students get are:

  1. Innovation of the educational infrastructures of Malaysia

The efforts, the internationalization of the higher education, planned and executed by the Government of Malaysia, mainly aim for maximizing the source of income; and, the writer believes these efforts will enhance the system of the higher education in Malaysia. However, to guarantee the efforts to the target ‘overseas students’, the government must carry them with maintaining and innovating the quality of higher education in Malaysia, not only following the incomes.

Reference lists

Education Malaysia Global Services 2012, Internationally recognised qualification, Education Malaysia Global Services, viewed 28 August 2014, <http://www.educationmalaysia.gov.my/global-education-hub/quality-education/internationally-recognised-qualification>.