Cinema, news media and perception management of the Gaza
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.
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.
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
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.
This chapter offers an explanation and classification of utopias or illusions by turning towards the fields of sociology and psychology, to better understand the way in which individuals and collectives use the illusions to navigate instances of social change. It argues that disillusionment is an inevitable part of any process of transition or social change. The chapter seeks to understand both the positive and negative aspects of disillusionment. It explores the extent to which the concept can be used to offer an alternative way of interrogating and theorizing the changes in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. The chapter attempts a humble approach to understand the illusions on which the modern ideologies of communism and capitalism were built, as a way of framing later discussions on the Romanian Revolution, the emergence of the first civil society groups and popular perceptions of the transition.
Two major events marked Romania's transition from the year 2006 to 2007: the publishing of the Presidential Report Analyzing the Communist Dictatorship of Romania and Romania's official entry into the European Union (EU). This chapter seeks to briefly discuss how these two major events have played out in Romania and what insight they can provide into further examinations of the origin and the particular evolution of the Romanian transition. Working backwards along the historical timeline, these debates hope to provide an interesting benchmark against which to analyze the events surrounding the 1989 Romanian Revolution, the formation of the first civil society organization and the historical experience of the Romanian transition. The Secret Security files and the EU are perhaps the quintessential symbols of the communist experience and the past; and the integration into the "capitalist West" and the future, respectively.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book shows the extent to which the communist and capitalist illusions are significantly different from other types of collective social illusions. It deals with the trauma associated with the process of change or transition, using the concept of shock. Following the trajectory of the first self-proclaimed civil society group in Romania, the Group for Social Dialogue (GSD), the book explains the role that the group played in popularizing democratic reforms and challenging neo-communist tendencies in the newly elected government. It focuses on the increasing role that the visual plays in the formation of new social and political illusions. The book examines the extent to which different forms of representation, such as photography, can open up much-needed spaces for self-reflection and create new forms of interaction between the subject and the photographer.
This chapter reveals how the civil society illusion was particularly built in Romania in order to fit and support the larger capitalist illusion. It seeks to challenge common misconceptions about the nature of Romanian civil society, and provides an alternative understanding of the role of civil society through the particular trajectory of the Group for Social Dialogue (GSD). The GSD was formed in the days immediately following the fall of the Ceausescu regime in Romania by a series of Romanian intellectuals and dissidents who came together under the impulse to create a space for discussion. This discussion would facilitate the democratization process. The chapter also seeks to underline the striking discrepancies between initial imaginings of the role of civil society by different Central and Eastern European writers and later use of the concept mainly in conjunction with a series of national and international NGOs.
By focusing on the most important controversies that surround the Romanian Revolution, and applying a framework that looks at the process of illusion formation and loss-disillusionment, this chapter offers an alternative view of the process of social change in Romania. While the post-communist political horizon was dominated by the emergence of the National Salvation Front (NSF) as the transition government and then the first freely elected government of Romania, the NSF cannot claim to be the first political formation in post-communist Romania. This privilege must be reserved for the Romanian Democratic Front (RDF), a political organization formed by the leaders of the Timisoara revolution that led the first negotiations with the communist part and publicly expressed the criteria for an independent Romania. A closer examination of a series of incidents such as the Valea Jiului revolt and the Brasov demonstrations reveals the increasing weakness of the communist regime in Romania.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides the basis for a theory of disillusionment in instances of transition. It elaborates on how such a theory could be applied to a specific case-study, in this instance, the Romanian transition from communism to capitalism. The book seeks to position Romania seventeen years into its transition, providing a benchmark against which to better understand the historical evolution of the transition. It examines the important role that both individual and collective illusions play in maintaining social solidarity and building a relationship with the state. The book utilizes the concept of shock to build a framework for better understanding the transition from the communist illusion to the capitalist illusion. It follows a similar logical structure, relying instead on the illusions of the first members of civil society in post-revolutionary Romania.