Anthony Judge

Unfreezing Categories as a Vital Necessity

Images as indicators

In preparation for the much-heralded, key meeting of the G20 Group in London (March 2009), two striking images were produced. The negatives are reproduced below:

·    The Financial Times identified a set of 50 people "whose position, skills and contacts allow them to define the debate over what should happen" (Fifty who will frame a way forward, 11 March 2009)

·    The meeting of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (Horsham, 15 March 2009) gave rise to a communique that will be the key text for the discussions at the G20 Summit (London, 2 April 2009)

What is so striking about these images? Both have the traditional predominance of "white males". But to clarify further, of the 50 identified by the Financial Times, 5 are women (blurred out in white). Of the 46 present at the G20 Finance Meeting, 2 are women (blurred out in black). This treatment might have been rendered even more striking by blurring out the women using white, and the "non-whites" using black.

Despite the confusion and obfuscation over who actually had any responsibility for the financial crisis and the management of its evolution, there is a significant consensus that a failure of regulatory overview has been a key factor. It is therefore reasonable to ask:

·    what proportion of those identified in either image were complicit in some way in this regulatory failure?

·    with what capacities and new insights will those so involved be responding to the challenge of the crisis of the financial system — and the credibility crunch with which it is now associated?

·    what proportion of the global population are not "white males" — but have had their livelihoods and future security rendered highly problematic by the those who have failed in their regulatory capacity?

·    how is it that the insights of non-males — presumably some 50% of the world population — are represented by only 7% of those identified in the above images?

The focus of the argument here is not on the questionable representation of "non-whites" and "women" — old issues as yet unresolved.



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Mar 2009.

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