I feel I have failed a bit to be able to get this point across in academia sometimes as responses from my audience sometimes ask why the Gumuz (and you can insert any indigenous group out of the national economic system here) matter? Other times I am asked whether I really thought that local people wouldn't prefer buying their fish at a grocery store to having to fish in the river. And yet more have voiced the need to modernize the traditional communities who are "primitive" or "backwards" and need help.
As one recent reviewer wrote on an academic paper that I unsuccessfully submitted for publication - "The Gumuz are being displaced, others are not, so this is obvious and does not need human security [analysis] or interviews in the field."
I hope I can improve my scholarship to clarify the point that development may have it wrong - and in fact may be an absolutely dangerous path with no return. I hope to communicate clearly that every sort of people matter, traditional lifestyles and knowledge are valuable, and people have the right to determine their own identity and livelihoods. Until then, I will start to really move on advocating through art and collaborations with artists to get the message out - maybe if people are unable to understand the dignity of people in my words, they can understand through the images I take.
The engagement information is below if you are in the NYC area next week and would like to attend. No cover.