Looking at the White Person


This is an amazing photograph. That group is formed by the photographer’s role as outsider. Try putting a name to each of those expressions; the variety is amazing.

I’ve been reading Tilly’s book about collective violence in tandem with Kotter’s book on Leading Change; they make for a volitile mixture in one’s head.
Tilly’s books create really big complex ideas that give you a lot to chew on. In this book he tries to capture a big model of what creates collective violence. I got to reading this because it’s another way to look at group forming. An example. Tilly enumerates a number of processes that can work to create collective volence; for example: us-them boundary activation. For example consider this quote: “… political entrepreneurs and violence specialists deliberately activated the Hutu-Tutsi boundary in 1994.” Add to that one this: “Jan 93- Mar 94: Rwanda imports about 580,000 machetes ..” Having read all that it’s hard for me to look at that photo without seeing a boundary standing ready to be activated. In that crowd stands an opportunity the worst kind of political entrepreneur. My brain starts humming that tune from South Pacific.

Kotter’s book is an entirely different kettle of fish. While Tilly writes from ivory tower Kotter is writing from the floor of the executive training workshop; i.e. you can almost taste the bad coffee of some luxury hotel’s conference center. Kotter is attempting to teach the art of being the political entrepreneurs; i.e. the skill of taking the large complex culture of an insitution or firm and move it into a newer more functional culture. This is skill demanded when your institution is on the threshold of getting displaced by change. But it is also the skill you need when you want to transform an existing group so it’s culture splices in new DNA that wasn’t there before.. The skills you’d need if you want to take the crowd in that photo and lead them someplace constructive.

The photo comes from here, via google image search. I keep trying to find images of groups, crowds, etc.

1 thought on “Looking at the White Person

  1. Paul English

    I’m sensitive when to pull out the camera when I’m in the third world, so as not to offend. Many times I’ve left some great shots only in my memory (which unfortunately fades faster than color ink). One of the first expressions I learn in other languages is “may I take your photograph please” but even then am selective when to use it.

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