International Relations

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Cinema, news media and perception management of the Gaza conflicts

This chapter examines media coverage of the Gaza conflicts and considers what occurs when humanitarian images of Palestinian casualties take centre stage. The chapter argues that a media outcome that appears to be favourable to the Palestinians, in that it focuses on their suffering, can actually have the opposite effect. Addressing UK, US and Israeli news media, as well as popular television and the documentary films Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008) and Where Should the Birds Fly (Fida Qishta, 2013), the chapter addresses the ways ‘perception management’ can serve to divorce the public from realities of state violence through a kind of cinematic derealisation that enables states to reduce perceptions of blame for their atrocities and act with impunity.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
The United States Peace Corps in the early 1960s

This chapter focuses on the United States Peace Corp and explores the nature and effects of the Peace Corps’ publicity, media and popular culture portrayals during the 1960s. It shows how the Peace Corps rendered international development into a topic for mainstream discussion and public engagement, and traces some of the political outcomes of this publicity. By focusing on volunteers’ altruistic intentions Peace Corps publicity portrayed international development as a humanitarian project. Presenting US intervention as a positive expression of American altruism, the Peace Corps helped popularise the view that America had a responsibility to modernise the ‘underdeveloped’ nations of the world. This chapter argues that, by privileging American viewpoints and eliding competing visions, Peace Corps publicity helped normalise the logic of intervention.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Juvenile actors and humanitarian sentiment in the 1940s

This chapter examines specific ideological and aesthetic dimensions of the representation of children in American films produced during and directly after the Second World War in relation to the promotion and operations of the United Nations. It analyses how vulnerable children from the world’s war zones appeared and functioned in four Hollywood studio pictures. These films presented groups of children to harness humanitarian sentiment in support of the ideology and activities of the UN. While the figure of the child acquired new cultural and political significance in the era of the United Nations’ wartime and post-war endeavours in humanitarianism, the presentation and performances of Hollywood’s juvenile actors simultaneously became subject to new modes of moral apprehension and aesthetic evaluation.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
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Television and the politics of British humanitarianism

This chapter focuses on how television coverage of major disasters in the global South shaped the historical and political trajectory of humanitarian aid in Britain, through a case study of British television coverage of the deadly famine in Ethiopia in 1973. ITV’s The Unknown Famine shaped the trajectory of British humanitarianism in three important ways: it provided an empathic demonstration of the power of televised images of human suffering to mobilise the public; it was an important signpost for wider critiques of media representation and disaster fundraising imagery emerging within the aid community; and it contributed towards significant changes in the British government’s approach to disaster relief policy.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture