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The IMAGES Project 2012 Conference



IMAGES (II) – Images of the Poor


Austrian Culture Center, Istanbul, 5-7 September 2012




Programme (final version: 22-06-2012)






Day 1 (5 September 2012)




09.30-10.00: Registration




Welcome and Opening (10.00-10-30)



10.00-10.15: Welcome by Doris Danler, Head of the Austrian Culture Forum Istanbul


10.15-10.30: Welcome by Veronika Bernard and Serhan Oksay, IMAGES project directors


10.30-11.00: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck/ Austria) and Serhan Oksay (Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey): The IMAGES project and the IMAGES project 2012 conference “IMAGES (II) – Images of the Poor”           




Session (1): The relativity of poverty (11.00-12.30)


Chair: Michelle M. Tokarczyk



11.00-11.30: Naji Oueijan (Notre Dame University, Zouk Mosbeh/ Lebanon): Images of the Poor as Rich and the Rich as Poor


11.30-12.00: Bann Saka (Notre Dame University, Zouk Mosbeh/ Lebanon): Rich and Poor – Borderlines or Meeting Points



12.00-12.30: Chantal Aflak (Notre Dame University, Zouk Mosbeh/ Lebanon): Lebanon: Are You Rich or Poor?




12.30-13.30: Lunch Break




Session (2): Social and communicative approaches to poverty (13.30-15.00)


Chair: Naji Oueijan



13.30-14.00: Diğdem Sezen (Istanbul University and Digital Games Research Association Turkish Chapter, Istanbul/ Turkey): Playing with problems. How game play can make us understand community problems and help us to solve them


14.00-14.30: Tonguç İbrahim Sezen (Istanbul University, Istanbul/ Turkey): Poverty in Digital Games


14.30-15.00: Sybille Kershner (University of Applied Sciences Zwickau, Zwickau/ Germany): Images of restraint. The Mettray colony




15.00-15.30: Coffee Break




Session (3): Images of the poor in the arts and as seen by photographers (15.30-17.00)


Chair: Naji Oueijan



15.30-16.00: Sabiha Göloğlu/ Will Harper ((Koç University, Istanbul/ Turkey): Images of the Poor in Surname-iHümayun (Imperial Festival Book) of 1582


16.00-16.30: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck/ Austria) and Serhan Oksay (Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey):  The IMAGES exhibition “Images of the Poor” – A Guided Slideshow


16.30-17.00: Serhan Oksay (Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey): Title to be announced


17.00-17.30: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck/ Austria): Stabilizing Society by Making Images of the Poor Look Aesthetic? Thoughts Developed on Analyzing World Press Photo Contributions




Day 2 (6 September 2012)




Session (4): The impact of the media on images of the poor (10.00-12.00)


Chair: Cangul Ornek



10.00-10.30: Elisabeth Kapferer (University of Salzburg, Salzburg/ Austria): Imaging Processes. Pictures of the Poor in Our Minds


10.30-11.00: Z. Nilüfer Nahya (Independent researcher/ Turkey): The Images of poverty and poor in Somalia and Other African Countries in the context of Aid Campaign in Turkey


11.00-11.15: Özlem Gündüz Kalan (Istanbul University, Istanbul/ Turkey): Contradictory Presentation of Poverty in Advertisement:  An Examination of the TV Commercials of Turkcell Under the Advertising Campaign Named “Life is Beatiful When Shared”


11.15-11.30: Duygu Özsoy (Istanbul University, Istanbul/ Turkey): Katık: A Magazine Belongs to Scavengers


11.30-12.00: Jakub Kosciolek (Jagiellonian University, Krakow/ Poland): Africa – the land of poverty. The distorted media’s view on the continent




12.00-13.00: Lunch Break




Session (5): Images of the poor in feature films (13.00-14.00)


Chair: Gönül Bakay



13.00-13.30: Małgorzata Radkiewicz (Jagiellonian University, Krakow/ Poland): (In)Visible Poor Europeans in Films of 2000s


13.30-14.00: Cangul Ornek (Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies of New York University, NY/ U.S.A.): The Thin Social Vein in the New Turkish Cinema: The Urban Poor in Zeki Demirkubuz and Tayfun Pirselimoğlu Movies


14.00-14.30: Elżbieta Wiącek (Jagiellonian University, Krakow/ Poland): Poverty – Spécialité de la maison of Polish cinema? Strategies and ideology in the representations of the economic crises in the films of Polish directors after the democratic transition (1989) until present



Session (6): Images of the poor in literature (14.30-16.30)


Chair: Veronika Bernard



14.30-15.00: Sinan Dinçer (Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum/ Germany): Supermen or Savages: Ottoman Porters in the Age of Imperialism


15.00-15.30: Savo Fouad Karam (Notre Dame University, Zouk Mosbeh/ Lebanon): Ameen Rihani’s Perception of the Rich and the Poor


15.30-16.00: Vanessa Mouawad (Notre Dame University, Zouk Mosbeh/ Lebanon): Juhan and Freedom as Wealth


16.00-16.30: Michelle M. Tokarczyk (Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland/ U.S.A.): Notorious Families: Images of Impoverished People in Carolyn Chute’s The Beans of Egypt, Maine and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina




16.30-17.00: Coffee Break




Session (7): Images of the poor in literature (17.00-19.10)


Chair: Veronika Bernard



17.00-17.30: Rita Bou Khalil (Notre Dame University, Zouk Mosbeh/ Lebanon): Conquered and Conqueror


17.30-18.00: Hatice Övgü Tüzün (Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul/ Turkey): The Rich and the Poor: Class Dynamics in Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone


18.00-18.30: Gönül Bakay (Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul/ Turkey): Poverty and Crime: The Case of Moll Flanders


18.30-19.00: Franziska Jekel/ Nina Peter (Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin/ Germany): Seeing (the) eyes of the other’. Images of the Poor in Baudelaire and McCourt



19.00-19.10: Closing Remarks by Organizers





This conference is supported by the University of Innsbruck based research platform CEnT and the Austrian Cultural Center Istanbul



Abstracts (in alphabetical order of speaker’s surname)




Chantal Aflak: Lebanon: Are You Rich or Poor?


Money counting and mounting is the basis of economical richness and poverty. However, wealth and poverty can also be measured with the country’s culture. I have chosen Lebanon for my study because it is a third world country, economically poor but culturally rich. In this paper, I will be discussing the different factors that have made Lebanon a culturally rich country. I will also study the negative and/or positive impacts of economics on this rich culture. I will refer to historical factors, such as colonization, globalization, and wars and their effects on promoting or demoting cultural wealth. 



Gönül Bakay: Poverty and Crime: The Case of Moll Flanders


Moll Flanders is one of the most well known criminals in the world of fiction. Although one could debate whether poverty always and unconditionally leads to crime, it can certainly be seen as an important contributing factor. In the 18th century, women had access to very few jobs; the options available to the poor and the uneducated were particularly limited and going to service was nearly the only alternative. At first Moll strongly resists this option, saying that she wants to be a “gentle woman”. For her being a gentle woman means not being forced into going to service. Gradually, Moll learns that marriages are mainly based on money also. Even if one is beautiful and clever, it is almost impossible to make a good marriage without a handsome dowry. Towards the end of the novel, being lonely, poor and desolate, Moll is led to a life of crime: “let them remember that a time of distress is a time of dreadful temptation and all the strength to resist is taken away. Poverty presses, the soul is made desperate by distress, and what can be done? (254)”

The aim of this paper is to examine the portrayal of poverty and necessity as key factors in leading the individual into crime in Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders.

Veronika Bernard: Stabilizing Society by Making Images of the Poor Look Aesthetic? Thoughts Developed on Analyzing World Press Photo Contributions


Poverty takes a prominent position in media coverage. The way it is represented by the media, however, does not necessarily follow the idea of fulfilling an information job but rather that of interpreting the situation depicted according to its relevance within the context of a society’s value system.

This paper aims at analyzing in how far images of the poor produced by journalistic photography, like documented in World Press Photo contributions, can be seen as supporting society’s attempt to stabilize its own self-perception.




Sinan Dinçer: Supermen or Savages: Ottoman Porters in the Age of Imperialism


In this paper my aim is to analyze the images of the porters and boatmen in Istanbul in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Western literature.

As the commercial and political relations between the Ottoman Empire and the West intensified in the 19th century, the Western public’s interest in the Orient -and specifically Istanbul- thrilled, paving the way for the publishing of numerous travel accounts and illustrious reports. The multi-religious and multi-ethnic groups of boatmen and porters were the subjects of the initial encounter of the Western traveler with the Orient, whose perception of them varied from docile and moral super-human or noble-savage to the embodiment of the traditionalist backwardness and inertia of the Orient. Falling for these superficial depictions of the Ottoman society, Western pseudo-scholarly works seeking universal solutions for “ideal nutrition” for workers or society without class conflict focused on the Ottoman workers.

Putting the depictions of the urban Ottoman poor into a diplomatic-political context I will try to demonstrate how this process of aestheticization, infantilization and dehumanization corresponded to the varying Western imperial designs about the Ottoman Empire. Finally, I will briefly analyze the perception of the same group in the literary works of the Ottoman elites as an anti-thesis to the occidental images.



Sabiha Göloğlu and Will Harper: Images of the Poor in Surname-iHümayun (Imperial Festival Book) of 1582


In the year 1582 Sultan Murad III celebrated the circumcision of his son Prince Mehmed with a grandiose festival that lasted over fifty days. The corresponding celebrations and festivities were documented in the text of the imperially commissioned Surname-iHümayun (Imperial Festival Book), which was lavishly illustrated with 437 miniatures. While defining the “poor” can be problematic in early modern societies, several illustrations specifically portray images of the lower classes receiving imperial beneficence, a common theme in Ottoman illustrated manuscripts of the sixteenth century. Scenes of aiding the poor, dispensation of coins, banquets for the needy, assistance to orphans and processions of various sufi orders can be found throughout the Surname. These select scenes offer a vehicle through which it is possible to analyze how the poor were visually portrayed at this intersection of charity and need. This paper will explore how these illustrations depict the different notions of voluntary and involuntary poverty, the hierarchies of need, and the concept of “deservedness”. Ultimately these illustrations and their visual interplay offer a unique medium through which to examine ideas of the poor, charity, and imperial beneficence in the early modern Ottoman Empire.



Franziska Jekel/ Nina Peter: ‘Seeing (the) eyes of the other’. Images of the Poor in Baudelaire and McCourt


As the conference title Images of the Poor already implies, poverty is deeply connected to the act of seeing and being seen. The ‘speaking eyes’ of the ‘mute beggar’ are a common topos in both literature and film. Literature and literary analysis not only reproduce, but also reflect the hierarchical gaze at the poor which both constitutes and silences him: “When one sees the other see, […] the seeing eyes of the other […] become invisible as seeing eyes […], one no longer sees them seeing” (Derrida). Looking on the poor negates the poor’s looking (Bourdieu). In Baudelaire’s Spleen de Paris (1869) the negation of the poor’s gaze gains physical presence when his narrator both describes and attacks the demanding eyes of a beggar. Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (1996) on the other hand provides the contrary perspective and establishes the look through the poor’s eyes; at the same time reflecting the shame caused by the looks of the rich. Both texts develop a rich metaphorical and literal network of ‘eyes’ and seeing, reflecting on the power and powerlessness of the observer and the observed. Our presentation will contrast both literary images of the poor (gaze and counter-gaze) and discuss literature’s potential (and its restrictions) to provide an authentic counter-model to the hierarchical gaze on the poor.



Özlem Gündüz Kalan: Contradictory Presentation of Poverty in Advertisement: An Examination of the TV Commercials of Turkcell Under the Advertising Campaign Named “Life is Beautiful When Shared”


Advertisement has a special language which is different from other ways of mass communication. In accordance with its nature that encourages consumption, it is in efforts to present beautiful aspects of life and the desired. Therefore, appearance of the indications of tough conditions of living, infelicity and poverty in a commercial would be a self-contradictory picture. Besides, mobile phone operator’s target group is much wider than any other consumption goods. Because today communication has become a basic need. Consumers who have dissimilar socio-economic characteristics in terms of income level, educational status, cultural level and gender take place in its target group. With the aim of  having the consumers feeling closer to the brand mark, brand preference requires a  message that responds the target groups needs and demands. Turkcell, which is the leading mobile phone operator in Turkey, uses the themes related to poverty in TV commercials under the campaign named “Life is Beautiful When Shared” with an emotional and humorous approach. In these TV commercials it is seen how people living under difficult conditions feel happy using Turkcell’s service for communication. In this study, Turkcell’s TV commercials are examined with regard to the paradoxical co-occurrence of consuming, happiness and poverty themes.



Elisabeth Kapferer: Imaging Processes. Pictures of the Poor in Our Minds


Austria is a wealthy country. Yet, (relative) poverty does exist. This fact is polarizing public opinions and stirring agitated discussions on what ranges from the „innocent poor“, such as the old and ill, to „benefit scroungers“, e.g., migrants or those who are said to reject to work and enjoy the so-called “social hammock”. One reason for such discourses is that common pictures or stereotypes of the poor are rarely applicable to poverty in Austria. People are hardly ever starving in Austria and beggars or homeless people seem to be a marginal group. Yet there is a million people (12 % of total population) reported to be at risk of poverty or actually to live in poverty. Where are they? What are the representations of poverty in present Austria and how do they evolve? Who rules the imaging processes, and to which verdict do they lead?

The contribution first seeks to explore the role of the media in providing information on poverty, but also in selecting and channeling information about poverty, shaping public opinions and providing a stage for the expression of these opinions and pictures in our minds. They can shape new representations of the poor. Their functions, as well as their impact on the situation of the people pictured need to be critically reflected. A society committed to poverty alleviation will have to question the pictures of the poor it is producing.



Savo Karam: Ameen Rihani’s Perception of the Rich and the Poor


Mankind has suffered from the delusion and misapprehension of social equality ever since its inception. The gap between rich and poor is widening to the extent that revolutions – unsurprisingly initiated by the oppressed – are presently occurring; signs of social and economic deterioration are clearly visible in both the West and East. The renowned United Nation’s Secretary General, Kofi Annan, once stated that in the twenty first century, “Poverty and inequality are fertile grounds for conflict.” And this is precisely what the Lebanese American writer and human activist, Ameen Fares Rihani (1876-1940), had forecast approximately a century ago. Inordinately engaged in human rights, Rihani severely criticized the affluent, holding them responsible for the abuse and exploitation of the impoverished; he was convinced that appeasing social communities are essentially related to establishing equality between the privileged and the dispossessed. In this paper, I intend to focus on Rihani’s own definition of the rich and poor, and his characterization of social inequity, outlining the effects caused by the widening fissure between two asymmetrical economic classes (and their relevancy today), as mostly reflected in Rihani’s work entitled Ar- Rihaniyat (The Rihani Essays) that he published in 1910.



Sybille Kershner: Images of restraint. The Mettray colony


Images of the poor have a history of their own. I would like to focus on a group of young men, in the vast majority children of impoverished families, who in 19th century France constituted several things at once: objects on whom the perceived consequences of moral decrepitude and inadaptability could be projected, i.e. as  examples of how deviant behavior might be punished, and able bodies who with the labor of their own “blood, sweat and tears” were supposed to finance and sustain being locked in (and locked out). I am referring to the inmates of the “colony” of Mettray in central France, near Tours. Because of its paradigmatic character, Mettray played a central role in Michel Foucault’s analysis of strategies of surveillance and punishment (“Surveiller et punir”).



Rita Bou Khalil: Conquered and Conqueror


The paper will employ literary analysis, the Postcolonial theory of art, as means to shed light on the effects of globalization on poor and rich countries. In this respect, the relations between rich and poor countries through society and literary images will be discussed referring to a few postcolonial novels. Moreover, the effects of this relation between the poor and rich countries on colonialism will be demonstrated, and the consequences of this dissatisfaction will be discussed to display its impact on the construction and destruction of individual identity. The main argument is that the dissatisfaction of the conquered and conqueror decreases the opportunity of globalization and of widening the gap between rich and poor countries.



Jakub Kosciolek: Africa – the land of poverty. The distorted media’s view on the continent


Africa is the continent that recently has been developing most quickly in terms of economical indicators, as well as found the best solutions to cope with world crisis. Despite rapid growth and civilization progress, dynamic development of the municipal environment and countries infrastructure in media Africa is predominantly pictured as a place of poverty and indigence.

In my presentation I will analyze the causes of such a deformed view on Africa in international media. What are the reasons why journalists rather write and speak rarely about problems and losses than successes which are born by Africans? I examine also the role of editors in strengthening the stereotypes on Africa as a land in need and expectation of international aid.



Vanessa Mouawad: Juhan and Freedom as Wealth


“I am Married to Freedom” is a statement repeated several times by Juhan, the main character in Ameen Rihani’s novelette, Juhan. This marriage could not have been possible had Juhan not been educated. This paper discusses the significant role of education in forming and framing an individual free and wealthy identity. Rihani conditions the freedom of the Eastern woman with education. Juhan’s wealth is a consequence of the freedom that her father gave her when allowing her to be educated in Paris and at the hands of a German governess. However, “Juhan” never fails to fit the figure of a Muslim Turkish women in her soul and thoughts, and she refuses the concepts of superiority and inferiority and of colonized and colonizer. Freedom to her is wealth, which no one can steal from her. In this respect, this paper attempts at presenting different images of wealth than the ones based on economical richness.


Z. Nilüfer Nahya: The Images of poverty and poor in Somalia and Other African Countries in the context of Aid Campaign in Turkey


This paper explores the image of poverty and poor in the context of the “Campaign for Aid to Somali and to the Other African Countries that Face Famine Risk” held between August, 5 and September, 29 2011. The Campaign was started by Prime Minister R. T. Erdoğan, supported by several NGOs and newspapers, and ended with the holiday of Ramadan (Eid Al-Fitr). Moreover, Prime Minister of Turkey visited Somalia along with some famous singers and personally delivered some of the humanitarian aid. Many posters and videos prepared by some pictures of African people -mostly from Somalia-, slogans produced, news made and articles written during the campaign.

After overcoming several economic crises Turkey with its rising economy began to acquire a position of donor nation that is able to provide aid to poorer countries. The paper will thus look at the agenda of constructing Turkey as a donor nation that was manifested in this aid campaign. So the aim of this study is to understand how and why these images of poverty and poor in Somalia and also African people are used for Turkish society in the context of this campaign. The images and texts in the slogans, news stories and articles will be analyzed to answer these questions.



Cangül Örnek: The Thin Social Vein in the New Turkish Cinema: The Urban Poor in Zeki Demirkubuz and Tayfun Pirselimoğlu Movies


Zeki Demirkubuz and Tayfun Pirselimoğlu are two important directors of the New Turkish cinema. Their commonality is their interest in the lives of the poor residents of the urban areas. The characters of their movies are mostly impoverished people living in the heart of the city, who seem to have very weak social ties. These people appear as marginalized and desperate individuals. They live an almost invisible life in big cities without really developing relations with their city and the people living around them. 

This paper aims at exploring the representation of urban poverty and urban poor in the New Turkish cinema through focusing on Zeki Demirkubuz’s filmography – particularly C Blok (1994), Masumiyet (1997), Üçüncü Sayfa (1999), Yazgı (2001), Kader (2006) – and Pirselimoğlu’sRıza (2007), Pus (2009), Saç (2010) trilogy. It is argued that those directors tend to depict urban poor out of social stratum they belong to. Although we can discern fundamental differences between two directors’ depictions, it is still possible to assert that both neglect identifying the social fabric that surrounds their characters. In this sense, they rather adopt a moralist and existentialist stance while telling the stories of those people. These two important directors give us some clues about the flimsy existence of social criticism in the Turkish Cinema beginning from the 1990s. 



Duygu Özsoy: Katık: A Magazine Belongs to Scavengers


The representation of poverty to be established with the external gaze is one of the main problems of the studies on poverty and representation. In this study, the magazine named Katık which is prepared by scavengers is analyzed. In the magazine, Scavengers’ problems, association struggles, life stories, letters and poems written by the mare published. The magazine has about five thousand circulation rate despite the lack of ad revenue and sponsor. The importance of the magazine is that it allows poor subalterns talking of themselves and it is an area that they are represented by themselves. Ali Mendiloğlu is the chief editor of the magazine who is also a scavenger says that “There are only two jobs that people ask ‘how did you start doing it’ instead of asking ‘why did you prefer it’. One of these jobs is scarlet prostitution and the other is garbage collecting. We are so invisible that nobody knows our number.” Through the magazine, scavengers who are deprived of the representation right challenge their invisibility. In this way they reach out to public and find the opportunity to represent themselves. 



Naji Oueijan: Images of the Poor as Rich and the Rich as Poor

This paper explores images of the poor and rich from a wider perspective than the merely materialistic standards, upon which the categorization of developed and underdeveloped world counties or civil societies was based. History has proven that countries with materialistic wealth are quite often cursed and even crushed by their own economic, imperialistic policies and practices. And discussions of individual or collective poverty and wealth can no more be based on materialistic, economic perspectives, which quite often fail to provide answers for the collective and/or individual Self seeking happiness and satisfaction. This presentation will prove that images of the poor and the rich have less to do with dress, food, and commodities a person or a society has, and more to do with local, traditional, social,
spiritual and moral practices of individuals and communities. After all, individuals living in economically developed and rich countries become isolated, lonely islands connected to each other by economic interests and not human ones. Spiritually and morally separated from each other, they float in oceans
of uncertainties. On the other hand, individuals living in distant tribes and communities are quite often happier and satisfied. In this sense, poor-rich discourses no more pertain to economic but to humanistic concerns and conditions.



Malgorzata Radkiewicz: (In)Visible Poor Europeans in films of 2000s


Closer examination of contemporary European cinema allows us to see that an important part of the European social panorama is poor. At the beginning of the 2000s when some of the post-communist European countries joined the European Union, the situation became even more complicated, and differentiated in terms of class, race, ethnicity, gender. Many of filmmakers as Ken Loach and Andrea Arnold addressed the problem of European puberty directly, creating an image of excluded members of society: workers losing job, unemployed inhabitants of industrial areas and “losers” (people whose life career changes rapidly and drastically).

In my presentation I am going to analyze selected examples of films, presenting different images and narrations of the poor. However, I do not concentrate only on titles showing the “black” side of such an existence, but I would rather try to combine diverse films (of different style and point of view).


Bann Saka: Rich and Poor: Borderlines or Meeting Points


The encounter between the rich and the poor is the main course that highlights most of the issues in almost all of the developed and underdeveloped societies.  And it so seems that the rich are becoming richer, the poor are becoming poorer, and the educated people are becoming more judgmental. This paper will discuss the encounter between the rich and poor from a postcolonial point of view and will emphasis the role of education in such conflicts while exposing this encounter as rebellion against the marginalization of the poor. Further, this paper will discuss the role of ethics in viewing the Other, whether poor or rich. Reference to Homi Bhabha and other Postcolonialists will be made to support the paper argument. Finally, the conclusion will debate whether there are possible borderlines or meeting points between the rich and the poor; and if there are some, what would be the role of identity and knowledge in serving those points.



Diğdem Sezen: Playing with Problems: How Gameplay Can Make Us Understand Community Problems and Help Us to Solve Them


In his history, Herodotus tells how Lydians used gameplay as a strategy against famine. They played games one day so they might not crave for food and on the next day they can eat. Using games they survived eighteen years. According to Jane McGonigal, although we tend to think of this kind of immersive gameplay as ‘escapist’, through the perspective of Herodotus’ history, we can see how games can be a purposeful escape. She claims, playing together as a nearly full-time activity can be adapted to difficult conditions. Games might make life bearable giving people a feeling of power in powerless situations, reorganizing society in better ways, and to get miraculous things done. Today alternate reality game designers adopt similar approaches to Lydians. Players are invited to follow various fictional poverty crises, suggesting whatever solution and contribution they wish. This paper aims to discuss possibilities of these so-called community games, which enable a type of community involvement regarding major problems of society such as societal, infrastructural problems and poverty and how people react to these real-life problems through gameplay.



Tonguç İbrahim Sezen: Poverty in Digital Games


Poverty is not one of the subjects which come to mind when we think about digital games. The medium of digital games is generally connected to violence, quick reflexes and action. Yet, many institutions including the UN use digital games for other purposes than entertainment. Games do more than telling or showing. They let players experience subjects and learn about them procedurally.

There are different positions towards poverty in digital games. The UN’s “Food Force” asks the player to take the role of an aid worker; which offers a detailed and informative but still an outsider angle towards the issue. Gamelab’s “Ayiti” on the other hand puts players in the shoes of a family of five in rural Haiti and gives a striking insider view. Current global financial crisis is also a topic for games. Tiltfactor’s “Layoff!” is only one of many games which explore the reasons of the growing financial difficulties with a satirical perspective.

Through these and other examples this paper will discuss the images or procedural representations of poverty in digital games. How do games model the circumstances the poor lives in? How are these models different from genre games? Which positions are designed for the players to take? How do these shape our perception of poverty?



Michelle M. Tokarczyk: Notorious Families: Images of Impoverished People in Carolyn Chute’s The Beans of Egypt, Maine and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina


Images of the poor in the United States might be compared to images of Orientals as created by Orientalists. The Orient, Edward Said noted, could be painted in broad strokes, omitting pictures of specific nations or individuals. Similarly, there is a story of poverty rather than one of impoverished people. “The story of poverty,” Vivyan C. Adair notes in “Disciplined and Punished, ” “is one of moral and intellectual lack and of chaos, pathology, promiscuity, illogic, and sloth juxtaposed always against the order, progress, and decency of ‘deserving’ citizens” (29). The impoverished characters in the Chute’s and Allison’s novels share some of these traits. Moreover, in each text the poor are seen by the middle class as undifferentiated masses. They are members of large notorious families known for prolific breeding, criminal records, and unruly behavior. They enmeshed in familial dysfunction.

Chute and Allison grapple with mainstream images of the poor. While acknowledging some of the stereotypes hold true each author writes against sweeping generalizations by telling individuals’ stories that reveal suppressed narratives of hard work, strict moral codes, and determination.



Hative Övgü Tüzün: The Rich and the Poor: Class Dynamics in Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone


Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone is a nineteenth century detective novel that depicts the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of a precious stone believed to be sacred by Hindus. Most of the action of the novel takes place in England and revolves around characters from different segments of British society. Although the main problematic of the book seems to be the whereabouts of the precious Moonstone, the writer also shows interest in social issues including the class dynamics that inform Victorian society. In this sense, one of the main concerns of the novel is to show how the poor are treated and perceived by the upper classes and how they strive to negotiate their place in a world that is hostile and unfair. Rosanna Spearman, housemaid in the house of Lady Verinder, her friend Lucy Yolland, the fisherman’s daughter and Ezra Jennings, a medical assistant are amongst the unfortunate poor folk who are marginalized and pushed to the peripheries of society. The aim of this paper is to examine the complex and strained relationship between the upper and lower classes with particular emphasis on the portrayal of the poor in the Moonstone.



Elżbieta Wiącek: Poverty – spécialité de la maison of Polish cinema? Strategies and ideology in the representations of the economic crises in the films of Polish directors after the democratic transition (1989) till present


Just after the communism’s fall filmmakers were not eager to deal with social problems of Polish society undergoing difficult process of political and economic transformation.  The beginning of the new millennium brought more interest for the people excluded from the benefits of system’s changes. Since then, the lack of money seems to be the main factor putting the narration into motion in the most outstanding movies of last years. There are also other factors which contribute to the disintegration of an ordinary Polish family. The drama of characters involves many parameters: the cruelty of fate, coincidence, misplaced intentions.

These movies cannot be compared to Stendhal’s mirror. They are not just reflecting the reality - their pessimism often seem to be exaggerated and poverty is emphasized. The fact that the images of the poverty have been detached from the politic doesn’t mean that they are free of any ideology. The aim of this paper is to divide and analyze the strategies used by contemporary Polish filmmakers.




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