The University of Richmond is celebrating South Africa Week as part of this year’s International Week from November 12-16, exploring themes of justice, reconciliation, commemoration and environmental stewardship.
There are four events on the schedule for this year’s International Week, including a film festival titled Exploring South Africa, a photo exhibit titled Unequal Scenes, the Bok Walk and Breakfast and the Illuminated Tree Walk and Annual International Dinner.
With many faculty and staff members already familiar with South Africa, having had the faculty seminar trip there this past summer, celebrating South Africa during the school’s second all-campus International Week was an obvious choice, Martha Merritt, dean of International Education, said.
“International Education chose South Africa as a place where our campus community could ‘meet’ in another culture through our ability to bring visitors, have support from offices as varied as Sustainability and Boatwright Library and our faculty could include sections in their classes in anticipation of the week,” Merritt said.
Sophomore Peter Braun is a member of the Earth Lodge living-learning community. Earth Lodge was the first living-learning community for upper-division students, serving as a community for “naturalists,” according to the living-learning programs website. Community members are asked to participate in programs surrounding four major themes: literature circle, experiential trips, outdoor education and community engagement.
Braun and other members of Earth Lodge were asked by the Office of International Education to curate and caption photographs from a project titled "Unequal Scenes" by photographer Johnny Miller, which will be on display at the Carole Weinstein International Center throughout South Africa Week.
“Earth Lodgers with diverse backgrounds and understandings of global and local inequality selected images from the ‘Unequal Scenes’ project to be displayed at the International Center,” Braun said. “These human, geographic and environmental dynamics were of great interest to Earth Lodge and gave an in-depth view of what South Africa Week will have to offer to the UR community.”
Members of Earth Lodge also wanted to include some photographs of Richmond, specifically those that captured Interstate 95 cutting through historic Jackson Ward, to highlight the history of the Confederacy in Richmond. Miller took these photographs in November 2017.
“We wanted to show some of the starkest lines of spatial inequality in cities around the world,” Braun said. “I hope that people see how imperfect and unequal Richmond still is and how we are part of that. I want people to know that there is a lot to learn from geography and the world around us.”
Miller’s overarching goal with his photographs is to provoke conversations about inequality through art.
“These images were taken with a drone over the most unequal locations I could find in multiple different countries,” Miller said.
His photographs included in the "Unequal Spaces" project start with South Africa, where he lives, and extend all the way to the U.S.
Miller said he believed drones were special because they were the first technology of their kind to be small enough, cheap enough and powerful enough to create a photograph from the world above. He also considers drones to be a form of transformative technology, he said.
“If you can transform someone’s perspective on a serious social issue, which I believe inequality is, then that is powerful stuff,” Miller said.
Contact contributor Colby Alvino at firstname.lastname@example.org.