This lecture will explore how a unique perspective on economic inequality, in this case using a drone, is vitally important to combat what has been described as "the defining challenge of our time".

AUDIO: Johnny Miller- "Unequal Scenes"

Issues which the lecture addresses

Economic inequality throughout the world, and especially in developing countries, is oftentimes hidden behind walls, or tucked away into forgotten corners of the city. This lecture will explain my process through which I brought this hidden inequality into the spotlight, and by making it relevant and unavoidable, helped contribute to a greater understanding of what inequality looks like, how to explain it, and hopefully spark the desire to try and fix it.

Short analysis of the above issues

Economic inequalities and their production can be understood in terms of the experience of both winners and losers; how do material inequalities affect status inequalities, and vice versa? People’s lived experiences of inequality – whether socio-economic, gender, ethnicity or other forms of inequality – have implications for their experiences, incentives, motivations and sense of self. And these implications have far-reaching effects upon social, political and economic life.

Propositions for addressing the issue

Existing inequalities in the developing world must first be brought to the attention of the masses. My photo series helps illuminate these divides, and make awareness relevant to those living on the "privileged" side of the fence. However, for such a difficult and intractable problem, we will need different levels of society to apply their own skill sets to the problem. This involves a focus on coalition-building of various kinds and the development of policy instruments such as taxation, wage regulation and the instantiation of rights.

I believe strongly that civil society and journalists can do more than their share to help bring about a change in awareness in inequality, not only by focusing on solutions, nor poverty, but through creative processes such as art, interventions, and innovative documentary projects.


Johnny Miller is a photographer and journalist, and Founder of africanDRONE. He is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and has extensive networks and knowledge of contemporary African and world issues. He has received worldwide acclaim for his project “Unequal Scenes”, an exploration of inequality around the world using a drone. He is currently working on expanding his photo projects and is currently an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity and the London School of Economics.


Find all Global Urban Lectures videos here.

See all Global Urban Lectures full packages (video, synopsis, biographies, additional reading material) here.

The Global Urban Lecture series is an initiative by UNI – UN-Habitat’s partnership with universities worldwide.

All videos are also available on the UN-Habitat