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The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 2330167
  • Book
  • December 2012
  • 248 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
WINNER of the 2015 ICA Outstanding Book Award

This path-breaking book explores how solidarity towards vulnerable others is performed  in our media environment. It argues that stories where famine is described through our own experience of dieting  or or where solidarity with Africa translates into wearing a cool armband tell us about much more than the cause that they attempt to communicate. They tell us something about the ways in which we imagine the world outside ourselves.

By showing historical change in Amnesty International and Oxfam appeals, in the Live Aid and Live 8 concerts, in the advocacy of Audrey Hepburn and Angelina Jolie as well as in earthquake news on the BBC,  this far-reaching book shows how solidarity has today come to be not about conviction but choice, not vision but lifestyle, not others but ourselves – turning us into the ironic spectators of other people’s suffering.

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown

Figures viii

Acknowledgements ix

1 Solidarity and Spectatorship 1

Introduction: 'Find your Feeling' 1

Th e instrumentalization of humanitarianism 5

Solidarity without 'grand narratives' 9

The technologization of communication 15

The ethics of objectivity 21

Conclusion: on this book 24

2 The Humanitarian Imaginary 26

Introduction: communicating vulnerability 26

The theatricality of humanitarianism 27

Critiques of the theatricality of humanitarianism 36

The humanitarian imaginary 43

Conclusion: on the performances of the imaginary 52

3 Appeals 54

Introduction: the paradox of appeals 54

The crisis of the theatre of pity 55

The controversy around appeals 57

The reflexive styles of appealing 65

Reflexive appeals and their authenticity effects 73

Conclusion: the ambivalence of 'cool' activism 76

4 Celebrity 78

Introduction: the celebrity as expert performer 78

Theatre, celebrity, authenticity 79

The celebrity controversy 83

The performativity of celebrity humanitarianism 88

'Moments' of humanitarian performance 90

Celebrity and its authenticity eff ects 98

Conclusion: towards a utilitarian altruism 104

5 Concerts 106

Introduction: rock as ritual ceremonies 106

Aid concerts: communitas or cynicism? 108

An analytics of ceremonial performativity: Live Aid and Live 8 114

The authenticity effects of ceremonial humanitarianism 132

Conclusion: towards a strategic morality of solidarity 136

6 News 138

Introduction: the moral appeal of news 138

The theatricality of journalism 140

The controversy around television witnessing 144

The analysis of narrative aesthetics 149

News narratives: a typology of witnessing 153

The authenticity eff ects of news: from narrative to database 164

Conclusion: objectivity or therapy? 170

7 Theatricality, Irony, Solidarity 172

Introduction: the historical shifts of humanitarianism 172

Post-humanitarianism: solidarity as irony 174

Post-humanitarianism as neoliberalism 179

Beyond irony: solidarity as agonism 188

Conclusion: on being good 203

Notes 206

References 215

Index 232

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
Lilie Chouliaraki London School of Economics and Political Science.
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown