Visual Activism, Janice, and Maori Privilege

Concluding his exploration of what visual culture is, Nicholas Mirzoeff proposes that visual culture has evolved beyond merely looking at the visual to something that requires engagement. He points out that visual culture of the past was used to criticize and counter representation in film, media, and art, whereas the visual culture of today works to create new ways to see and be seen (Mirzoeff 297) Through viewers engaging with visual culture comes the emergence of visual activism. The rise of globalization has connected the world in a way that advances the vision of visual activism, to make change in how we are represented as individuals and a collective, through direct action or conversation, performance or art making.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across the following video:

Janice, Janice. How you put your foot in your mouth.

She is, however, not alone in this thinking. Many non-Māori throughout the nation hold a similar view on Māori receiving better treatment than other New Zealanders, a claim which is often made in the face of Māori trying to defy the census and fight for greater representation. Dr. Peter Meihana in an interview with Te Karere states that this idea of Māori privilege is a fallacy (Te Karere TVNZ) and is a continuation of colonization. In response to these videos, I’m interested in researching further how this idea pervades the discussion of race relations and the reality of the societal condition of contemporary Maori.


Sources Cited:

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Afterword: Visual Activism”. How to See the World, Pelican Books, 2015, pp. 297

Te Karere TVNZ. “Thesis finds Māori ‘privilege’ dates back to the 1840s”. YouTube, May 16 2016,


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