The Philosophy of hope through photography in Kenya: interpretation of Henri Cartier-Bresson's Gaze under the existentialism of Gabriel Marcel

Sanchez, Ismael Martinez
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Strathmore University
Today, many Western media impose a simplifying view of photographic reality by narrating African daily life under negative cliches that are perpetuated in time (poverty, famine, corruption, etc.) or recently, it is enough to look at the visual coverage and repercussions of the AI Shabaab dusit02 Hotel attack on the pages of the New York Times (De Freitas, 2015, January 15). That is why, in a globalized culture, Kenyans are asking themselves if there are any positive models or roles of their own that go beyond this one 'aesthetics of despair'. So, the question in this dissertation is: Can Western agency and media photography promote a broader view of reality and bring hope to new generations of Kenyans? To answer this question, we have done an analysis of the characteristics of Cartier-Bresson's photographic work under the philosophy of Gabriel Marcel. Both authors were French and intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century: Henri Cattier-Bresson is considered the father of modern photojournalism and one of the pioneers of humanist photography; Marcel is a philosopher who considers hope the motor in existential life (because he considers that man is not a being thrown into the world). Thus, this dissertation offers a framework on what photography is, and what hope consists of. We study both fields, specifically, in Henri Cartier-Bresson and in Gabriel Marcel; and conclude with a symbiosis between the four characteristics of photography in Cattier-Bresson with the four notes of the philosophy of hope seen in Gabriel Marcel. Finally, since aesthetics is always a reflection of ethics, we consider the different types of 'photographic gazes' of a photojournalist (gaze of resignation, acceptance or redemption) to propose a gaze of hope that overcomes African stereotypes by proposing new paths to Kenyan society. This look is only possible through virtue in technical excellence and professional ethics.
Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Masters in Applied Philosophy and Ethics (MAPE) at Strathmore University, Kenya
Photography_Kenya, Henri Cartier-Bresson's Gaze, Existentialism_Gabriel Marcel