Bangladeshi activist and photographer Shahidul Alam spent over 100 days in prison in his native country for speaking out to the press about anti-government protests. Watch LIVE at the National Geographic Storytellers Summit as he joins writer Wajahat Ali in conversation about his imprisonment, the conversation it sparked about human rights, and the importance of mentoring the next generation of photojournalists.

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Shahidul Alam speaks at RMIT’s “Activism at the Margins” Conference, at the Capitol Theatre, 10-12 February 2020.

“Hope at a Time of Repair: Modes of Visual Resistance in Repressive Environments”
The perceived veracity of photography gives it a power that is open to use and abuse. Politicians, religious leaders, advertisers, NGOs and humanitarian organisations all recognise and use photography to further their agenda. Photography has been used to expose corruption, to highlight acts of courage, to bring attention to the plight of the repressed. It has also been used to deceive the public, to wage war and to vilify the innocent. In an image saturated world, where both social media and mobile phones gives the average person unprecedented reach, an ability to challenge authority and question mainstream media, photography is an agent of change, and perhaps the most powerful tool for social mobilisation.

This Q&A was part of RMIT’s 2020 Activism at the Margins Conference, held at the Capitol Theatre, Melbourne, February 10-12. Shahidul Alam is one of Time magazine’s 2018 People of the Year, a distinguished photographer, writer, and human rights activist. Tony Dalton is Emeritus Professor in the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University, and a leading conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

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