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Title: Graphic design for social justice in South Africa
Authors: Ravjee, Latha 
Issue Date: 16-Oct-2012
In this dissertation I examine of the role of graphic design in the struggle for social justice in South
Africa - with specific reference to the concept of human rights. I am motivated by an overwhelming
awareness that the Bill of Rights in post-apartheid South Africa exists in striking contrast to the
daily struggles for human dignity. In addressing this contradiction I present a historical examination
that focuses on the visual impact of the creative combination of images and text to effect socioeconomic
and political change.
Drawing from Steve Biko’s philosophy of psychological liberation and Paulo Freire’s educational
philosophy for critical thinking, I distinguish between propaganda and education. I take the stand
that people are not really free if they blindly accept the myths of the established state order and I
explore the various ways in which society is misguided by these myths.
I argue that unlike graphic design that maintains the status quo and represents the propaganda
of the established order, ‘graphic design for social justice’ represents the voice of people’s power
against state power.
Through this study and practice I conclude that the role of graphic design for social justice in South
Africa is to uncover the myths of state power by presenting scenarios that encourage critical
thinking, dialogue and open debate about power and the abuse of power in the continued struggle
for human dignity.
It is intended that this body of work, and the exhibition that results from it, contributes in part to
the writing and documentation of a history of South African socio-political graphics.
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the academic requirements for the
Master of Technology Degree: Graphic Design, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2011.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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