If This Is A Human: a great curiosity

Cynthia MaiWa Sitei

2018 - Ongoing

Kenya; South Korea; England, United Kingdom; Wales, United Kingdom

Albino – a person or animal having congenital absence of colouring pigment in skin and hair, which are usually white and eyes which are usually pink and unduly sensitive to light. Albino’tic a. [sp. & Port., orig. of white Negroes, (L. albus) white + ino (ine)] (The Concise Oxford Dictionary).

In some parts of the world, albinism is believed to bring good health, financial and material wealth. When examined from the position of being blemished humans, people with albinism are discriminated against in some cultures, and even killed because they are considered a curse to communities. Their presence is believed to result in natural calamities such as droughts and floods, and to cause human, animal and plant diseases and death (Machoko, 2013). Research suggests that people with albinism live in ambiguity, a factor that has fuelled the curiosity of the occult market. They also suffer from a lack of scientific and technological understanding, as well as the failure of education to improve their material prosperity.

My project is about questioning, highlighting and understanding how societies reacted to the presence of people with albinism before and after its formal classification in medicine. Through the medium of photography and researching archival materials, I intend to highlight and analyse the long history of albinism to shed new light on the troubling dichotomies of race and skin colour. It is a project highlighting the lack of representation, justice and social inclusion of people with albinism in Wales and England. Research and images used in this project have been conducted and captured in four different countries; Wales, England, Kenya and South Korea. This is only the initial project proposal as more work needs to be done.

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