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Racism in India: the africain portraits (extract)
2017

Racism In India : the African Portraits

« Anywhere in the world, it takes a black person to teach us what racism really means. »

On January 31st, 2016, Bangalore woke up to yet another news of a shocking mob attack against a Tanzanian student. This particular one was appalling enough to earn international press interest for the first time. In a widely televised debate that followed, one of the more vocal participants kept repeating that this is an aberration in a country that is normally welcoming of all people. This 'aberration' is what Africans suffer as everyday racism.

Since the incident, Mahesh Shantaram has been going out to the far-flung neighbourhoods of Bangalore and India to meet the African community. « It's as if they don't accept us as human beings ». He shows these students, that had looked at India as some sort of mecca of higher education, and how they are disappointed. His imagery goes beyond that of conventional photojournalism. By his subjects enact semi-fictional stories of their everyday lives, he explores the many facets of racism, sexism and casteism that underlie Indian society. Mahesh Shantaram also experiments on a more formal level: he uses intimate portrait narrative as a means to rise consciousness to a broader audience. His work has become a nationwide reference in the intensifying debates on racism in India.

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