Veni Vedi Vici; : Vilified Visuality of Indonesian PATls

Badrul Redzuan Abu Hassan


Much of what we know about the world is informed visually through the prosthetic lens of the
photographer. An important post-colonial and cultural studies scholarship today is about
investigating visual culture, particularly on the relationship between photography and cultural
identities of 'the Other'. By way of 'imperious' and 'colonial' guises, photography may be
effectively by the ruling elite to inform the dominant polity or society about the cultural identity
of its 'Other'. This study argues that certain photographic representations of Indonesian illegal
migrants or PATIs (lit. Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin) by Malaysian print media during the period
of their amnesty from the Malaysian government and their eventual deportation by December
2004, are inherently ideological and unnecessarily manipulative. However, it also argues that
visual literacy can be employed to deconstruct and raise our awareness of such discursive
production which operates against a benevolent construction of the Indonesian PATIs.

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