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    What 7 Billion is supposed to look like...

    Javier Arbona-Homar
    Nov 1, '11 5:21 PM EST

    From the New York Times Lens blog, this is apparently what 7 billion people look like when you "picture" the latest world population...

    Hordes of teeming brown masses of humanity overcrowding a train (run for your life!) Which is, of course, saturated with its Malthusian hysteria.

    Yet thanks to my colleagues in geography, we hear that the image chosen by the Times to represent the 7 billion appeared before in the same blog:

    Strike the previous and now add: "hordes of brown Muslim masses on an immovable train!" As we read under the photo, the image actually comes from a Muslim festival weekend in Bangladesh, and that explains a lot more. Crowded transport is an ur-image that in the approved Western imagination is actually what "proper" urbanism strives for (except not as dark). Thus, it's not all that related to teeming global populations at all, is it? In other words, the image reflects a temporary moment of pilgrimage. Highly questionable on the part of the Times, then, to conflate the contingent context of the second image with the projected developed world anxieties of the first image.

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About this Blog

A bezoar is a mass of disparate pieces and materials. For this blog, you will find something somewhere between tweet-length posts and tumblelogging; inchoate thoughts; provocations and assorted scraps that don't fit anyplace else; criticisms of a political and geographic variety; ecoaffective ramblings; spatial imaginaries that don't conform. On Twitter: @AlJavieera; 1/3rd of @Demilit; bookmarked content: @AJFavorite.

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