What to say about the other

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The others are mirrors for the consciousness of the individual. The interaction between people is the place where culture is born. What do we think about other people? What do we base our judgements on? And how are our images of the other formed? These are the central questions in our investigative project What To Say about the Other. In 2010, my sister Janneke who is a graphic designer and I, went out into the streets of Amsterdam to ask passers-by what they thought about Africa. A year later, we travelled to Maun, Botswana, and asked people there to respond to the ‘Amsterdammers’ statements and to share their own ideas of Europe. Europeans’ ideas about Africa often still fit the stereotypical image of “the dark continent”, plagued by civil wars, natural disasters and famines or idealized in exotic photographs of wild animals and unspoiled nature. But such images need not be a reason for shortsightedness – they can also serve as entry points for a dialogue with the other.