Link: National Geographic looks at its history on race

NPR reports on National Geographic’s new issue devoted to the topic of race, and the way that the organization has examined its own history: “‘National Geographic’ Reckons With Its Past: ‘For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist’”

I found it interesting to hear about one reporter’s look through the photo archives—the story is not only what was chosen to represent in the magazine over the years, but all the photos that were not chosen because they didn’t fit the editorial mold. As someone who has spent a lot of time working in South Africa, this passage stands out to me, looking back at a 1962 article on the country:

"There are no voices of black South Africans," Mason told Goldberg. "That absence is as important as what is in there. The only black people are doing exotic dances ... servants or workers. It's bizarre, actually, to consider what the editors, writers, and photographers had to consciously not see."

Of course the magazine grew to be enormously successful by knowing and catering to its subscriber base. Anthropologists also catered to their audience, an academic audience who reveled in strange practices and imagined exotic places.