Why does this picture trouble me?
Is it because it looks staged? Or because it reinforces our perceptions of the “old” and the “new”, the “developed” and the “underdeveloped”? Is it because it likely shows the beginning of the end of a complex relationship going back generations between a people and their culture?
We have so much to learn from traditional, indigenous societies, yet technology and knowledge transfer is almost universally one way – “us” to “them” – and is almost always portrayed in eye-catching images like the one above. In our world this is what progress looks like, neatly caught in the lens of a travelling laptop owner.
The picture tells us that development is on the way.