Thursday, December 9, 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Zoom Meeting
Registration Required

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With special guest conversation-starter

Activist Photographer

El Chocó, Colombia: Rainforest cultures confront mechanized mining

Steve Cagan is a photographer – what is sometimes called a “documentary photographer” – and an activist in movements for progressive social change, for justice and peace. His goal has always been to integrate his photography and the social or political activism which it is intended to be a part of, to produce work that contributes to the struggles of the communities where he is photographing.

In Steve’s own words … “What is ‘activist photography?‘ The object is to be an active part of the movement you are working with. In the end, activist photography will be judged by the extent to which it contributes to those movements, helps to realize their goals, and perhaps also broadens their cultural concerns, as well as by its ability to provide cultural nourishment and support to activists and people of conscience.”

In rivers and streams of Colombia’s El Chocó region, traditional artisanal panning for gold is being replaced by mechanized mining. This new practice represents a threat to traditional economic and social structures, as well as to Chocó’s rich rain forest environment. And there looms the even greater threat of large-scale mining by transnational corporations. The El Chocó Mining project documents the work and lives of grassroots miners through photography and drawing.

Steve has been working and taking photographs in Colombia’s El Chocó since 2003. His article on gold mining in El Chocó was published by ReVista, the journal of The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, in January, 2014.


The Virtual Brown Bag lunch series is a new effort by PPJC to provide space and opportunity for activists to safely gather and exchange whatever’s on their minds. Inspired by our popular Virtual Activists’ Café series, we hope to provide just a bit more focus by inviting interesting “conversation starters” to join us for each Brown Bag Lunch. Please email us with your suggestions for good conversation starters.

Photos © Steve Cagan. All rights reserved.

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