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Poor us. : an animated history of poverty.

  • Farmer, Sharon.
  • Videos

About this work


This programme was show as part of the Why Poverty? season. It was produced by an international partnership which included the BBC and the Open University. The programme explores the nature of poverty and possible causes at various points in global history. Narrated by Shaun Parkes, it uses animation in combination with expert voices, archive film and modern footage to tell the history of poverty around the world. The historians, economists and other experts who contribute their views are; Emmanuel Akyeampong, Joseph Stiglitz, Esther Duflo, Jeffrey Sachs, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Adam Sabra, Sharon Farmer, Lillian Li, Thomas Pogge and Frances Stewart. The programme uses a dream narrative to illustrate what being poor has meant at different times and places, for example in Medieval Paris, during the Chinese famine of 1743 and in 20th century Africa. It puts forward a number of causes of poverty such as natural disasters, poor government, colonialism and capitalism. It explores attempts to alleviate poverty starting with alms giving as an act of religious piety before moving on to the workhouse, revolutionary movements and the welfare state. It concludes by considering what might be done to reduce poverty in the modern globalised world.


UK : BBC 4, 2012.

Physical description

1 DVD (58 min.) : sound, color, PAL.


Broadcast on 28 November, 2012

Creator/production credits

Written and directed by Ben Lewis, animaton by Fons Schiedon and edited by Bert Hunger. Produced by Femke Wolting and Bruno Felix for Submarine; a co-production between the BBC, DR, ZDF/ARTE, ARTE G.E.I.E NHK, NRK, SVT, VPRO, YLE ITVS International and the Open University.

Copyright note

Submarine and Steps International



  • English

Where to find it

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