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A Congolese Experience
Justine Brabant

Based on the author’s experience as both a journalist and an independent researcher working regularly in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this article examines the many constraints that journalists face in areas of armed conflict. It considers two unusual aspects of journalistic practice observed in the DRC: first, the reporters’ lexical dependence – that is, how the language journalists typically use to describe war is borrowed, sometimes unconsciously, from the war-related rhetoric developed in other fields – and second, journalists’ practical dependence on humanitarian organisations and how this might influence the articles they produce.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Abstract only
The Difficult Comedy of Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Olu Jenzen

This article concerns itself with feminist comedy that is deemed angry and difficult in an era of postfeminism. Hannah Gadsby’s live show Nanette, released as a Netflix film, can be described as difficult because it is politically challenging, emotionally demanding and disrupts the established format of stand-up comedy. Yet it has had critical and commercial success. Nanette challenges the underpinning assumption of postfeminism: that feminism is no longer needed. It is feminist and angry. To explore the phenomenon of angry feminist comedy in the postfeminist era, the article considers the comedy of Gadsby through the figure of the feminist killjoy, coined by Sara Ahmed, to reflect how the killjoy and the queer art of failing offer forms of political ‘sabotage’ that subvert comedy as masculinist popular culture.

Film Studies
A Thematic Analysis of Collective Trauma and Enemy Image Construction in the 1980s American Action Film
Lennart Soberon

During the 1980s the spectre of the Vietnam War haunted the sites of cinema and popular culture in various forms. Whereas a rich body of scholarly research exists on cinematic iterations of the Vietnam war as trauma, the discursive dynamics between memory, ideology and genre in relation to enemy image construction are somewhat underdeveloped. This article utilises genre studies, conflict studies and trauma theory in analysing how the representations of film villains interact with the construction of cultural trauma and national identity. Considering the American action thriller to be an important site for processes of commemoration and memorialisation, the discursive construction and formal articulation of national trauma are theorised within the genre. Additionally, a thematic and textual analysis was conducted of a sample of forty American action thriller films. The analysis illustrates how the genre operates through a structure of violent traumatisation and heroic vindication, offering a logic built on the necessity and legitimacy of revenge against a series of enemy-others.

Film Studies
Theorising from the Epicentres of Our Agency, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa
Bibi Burger, Motlatsi Khosi, and Lavinia Brydon

In this co-authored review-reflection, we discuss the African Feminisms 2019 conference, offering a snapshot of the vital and emboldening African feminist work being conducted by researchers, cultural producers and creative practitioners at all levels of their careers, as well as a sense of the emotional labour that this work entails. We note the particular, shocking event that took place in South Africa just prior to the conference informed the papers, performances and ensuing discussions. We also note that the conference and many of its attendees advocated for a variety of approaches (and more than one feminism) when seeking to challenge power.

Film Studies
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Queer Feminist Film Curation and the Freedom to Revolt
So Mayer and Selina Robertson

During summer 2018, Club Des Femmes (CDF), in collaboration with the Independent Cinema Office funded by the British Film Institute (BFI), curated a UK-wide touring season of films considering the aftermath of May 1968. ‘Revolt, She Said: Women and Film after ’68’ comprised nine feature films and eight accompanying shorts, exploring the legacy of 1968 on contemporary feminisms, art and activism transnationally. In this article, two members of CDF unpack the queer feminist ethics and affects of the tour, through the voices of multiple participants, and framed conceptually by Sara Ahmed’s ‘willful feminist’ and Donna Haraway’s ‘staying with the trouble’.

Film Studies
A Military Tactic or Collateral Damage?
Abdulkarim Ekzayez and Ammar Sabouni

Nine years of continuous conflict in Syria have borne witness to various atrocities against civilians, some of which amount to war crimes. Most of the involved parties have committed such atrocities, but the Government of Syria (GoS) and its allies remain at the top of the list of perpetrators. Out of a population of 21 million in 2010, more than half a million Syrians were killed as of January 2019 with more than 13 million displaced either inside the country, in neighbouring countries or elsewhere. Moreover, civilian infrastructures, including but not limited to health, have been severely affected, resulting in interrupted services and suffering. Looking at patterns of these atrocities, timing of occurrence, and consequences, could allow us to draw conclusions about motivations. While the GoS maintains these attacks were against combating civilians, we argue that civilians and civilian infrastructure were military and strategic targets, rather than collateral damage to the attacks committed by the GoS and its allies. The motives behind attacking civilians may be related to military gains in imposing submission and surrender; whereas others may be linked to long-term goals such as forced displacement and demographic engineering. This paper argues, supported by several examples throughout the course of the Syrian conflict, that GoS has used a five-point military tactic with targeting healthcare being at the heart of it. This military tactic has been extremely effective in regaining most opposition strongholds at the expense of civilian suffering and health catastrophe.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Timothy Longman

In 1999, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) published an extensive account of genocide in Rwanda, Leave None to Tell the Story. Based on interviews and archival work conducted by a team of researchers and written primarily by Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell was quickly recognised as the definitive account of the 1994 genocide. In the ensuing two decades, however, much additional research has added to our understanding of the 1994 violence. In this paper, I assess Leave None to Tell the Story in light of the research conducted since its publication, focusing in particular on three major challenges to the analysis. First, research into the organisation of the genocide disputes the degree to which it was planned in advance. Second, micro-level research into the motivations of those who participated disputes the influence of ideology on the genocide. Third, research has provided increasing evidence and details of violence perpetrated by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). I contend that despite these correctives, much of the analysis continues to hold up, such as the role of national figures in promoting genocide at the local level, the impact of the dynamics of local power struggles on the violence, and the patterns of violence, including the effort after the initial massacres to implicate a wide portion of the population. Finally, as a member of the team that researched and helped write Leave None to Tell, I reflect on the value of this rare sort of research project that engages human rights organisations in an academic research project.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Politics of ‘Proximity’ and Performing Humanitarianism in Eastern DRC
Myfanwy James

This article explores the everyday practice of security management and negotiations for access conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Based on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and archival exploration, it examines the experience of MSF Congolese employees, who navigate a complex politics of humanitarian fixing and brokerage. Their role in MSF is simultaneously defined and circumscribed by their political and social situation. MSF’s security management relies on local staff’s interpersonal networks and on their ability to interpret and translate. However, local staff find themselves at risk, or perceived as a ‘risk’: exposed to external pressures and acts of violence, while possibilities for promotion are limited precisely because of their embeddedness. They face a tension between being politically and socially embedded and needing to perform MSF’s principles in practice. As such, they embody the contradictions of MSF’s approach in North Kivu: a simultaneous need for operational ‘proximity’, as well as performative distance from everyday conflict processes.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Adina-Loredana Nistor, Eileen Moyer, Joost Fontein, and Reinhart Kößler
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal