Slow Violence is Sea Violence

This photo essay focuses on the idea of slow violence, and how narratives involving slow violence can create an emotional response in the viewer. The unseen is what suffers the most, which is why we must create a large amount of awareness to make a difference. Slow violence can be explained as being similar to the long term effects of environmental degradation. Our planet is majority made up of the ocean, yet somehow we have allowed ourselves to damage it and create a huge environmental problem. Nixon (2011) likes to stick up for the poor, as they don’t have enough resources to have a ‘voice’ and speak up for themselves. This is somewhat similar for the ocean life, as they don’t have their own voice and need us to represent them and help keep them safe.


When you think about the vast ocean that takes up approximately 70% of the earth’s surface, this is probably the kind of image that comes to mind. Beautiful blue and clear water, that seems to go on forever, full of sea creatures living in their natural habitat. Can you imagine a world without this incredibly mysterious place, it is estimated that over 95% of the ocean is yet to be discovered. This photo was taken near Xai-Xai, Mozambique when I went on a family holiday in 2015. We stayed in a house about 50 m from the beach, an incredibly beautiful area that deserves all the protection it can get.  


garbageWhen you think about the vast ocean, I bet this is not the image that comes to mind, filthy water, filled with all kinds of pollution. Throughout the Pacific Ocean there are huge collections of rubbish, floating around, damaging the environment. Today is 22 April, also known as Earth Day. On a day dedicated to our planet, it is difficult to fathom that our planet is put through so much hardship – the idea that there is a sea of garbage is disgusting. The currents of the ocean, are pushing the rubbish together, creating these huge groups of plastic and other debris. 


When you think about the ocean, something as incredible as this would not be your first thought. Keep in mind that a whale shark can grow up to 12 m long and an average stingray is usually about 2 m long – that is something that I think is completely incredible. The ocean is such a mystical and stunning place, it truly puzzles me that we as the human race would do anything to damage such a wonderful place. This picture looks almost like a painting it is so picturesque, these creatures create an aesthetic that is almost hard to believe that it is completely natural. This is the kind of scene we need to protect. 


When you think about the ocean and all its amazing creatures, this is not what you picture. If the extreme pollution continues, not long from now a large amount of the sea life will go extinct. With all the oil spills, garbage, dumped chemicals and possible sewage disposal the ocean will be left with nothing. One day in the future it is possible that we will only see rubbish in the ocean. Just like this picture says, marine creatures are at risk due to the excessive amounts of plastic pollution. Slow violence may start with dis-guarded plastic, but it could end with the extinction of a species.   


Go on twitter to read more narratives about slow violence. #DigEcoAction


Sources Consulted

Evans, C 2015. Sea of Garbage, photograph, viewed 21 April 2016.

Hachet, N 2013. Plastic Fantastic, photograph, viewed 21 April 2016.

Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Whale shark with group of stingrays, n.d. photograph, viewed 21 April 2016.


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