International Relations

The Marshall Plan films about Greece

This chapter examines how Marshall Plan documentary films about reconstruction in Greece mobilised national culture and identity politics in their audio-visual rhetoric. Addressing the films’ humanitarian narratives, the chapter suggests Marshall Plan documentaries inaugurated a visual politics of neo-humanitarianism. It analyses how classical antiquity is evoked in the films to stand not only for Greece’s reconstruction but also for Western Europe’s future and its alignment with the US vision of a geopolitical ‘pax Americana’. Focusing on Humphrey Jennings’ The Good Life (1952), the chapter explores a historical dialectic between modern and classical Greece that positions the Marshall Plan aid within a dual perspective of national reconstruction and universal necessity.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture

This chapter considers the limitations of political consumerism as a channel for a humanitarian impulse and explores whether the everyday practice of consumption can be a space of care and concern for international justice. Analysing the consumption of children’s toys and the online discussions of boycotting ‘unsafe’ toys, the chapter explores how a neoliberal parenting culture in the West, which promotes a highly individualised and intensive model of parenting, affects a more universal and collective call for a global international humanitarianism. While social media provides opportunities to share and discuss information about toy safety, it is argued that emotion is an important part of humanitarian mobilisation, and that the emotions of consumption are often thwarted by the identity politics of consumption.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Offline and online games, branding and humanitarianism at the Roskilde Festival

This chapter asks whether it is possible to harness the powers of ‘the popular’ and media culture in the service of humanitarianism. There is a need to critically balance an analysis of the potentially progressive and/or problematic aspects of a popularised humanitarian event. Exploring the energies that are at play in the popular ‘carnival’ of the Danish Roskilde Festival, this chapter examines how the carnivalesque can function both as a form of corporate branding and as a means to destabilise the status quo identified with a negatively branded segment of the population. The chapter also analyses the expansion of the festival into cyberspace, and the offline–online interconnectivity of the festvial’s humanitarian events

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Open Access (free)
The management of migration between care and control

The representation strategies and discursive practices enacted by a wide range of state and non-state actors present the Mediterranean Sea as the setting of a perpetual emergency. European and national political agencies, military authorities, humanitarian organisations and activists have been representing migrants crossing borders as a significant problem to be managed in terms of a wider social, cultural and political ‘crisis’. This chapter focuses on the ambiguities and contradictions that bedevil discourses and practices around control and care of human mobility in the Mediterranean. It addresses the role of ‘crisis’ narratives and the hyper-visibility of the ‘military-humanitarian spectacle of the border’ in obscuring the political stakes surrounding European borders.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture

This collection interrogates the representation of humanitarian crisis and catastrophe, and the refraction of humanitarian intervention and action, from the mid-twentieth century to the present, across a diverse range of media forms: traditional and contemporary screen media (film, television and online video) as well as newspapers, memoirs, music festivals and social media platforms (such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr). The book thus explores the historical, cultural and political contexts that have shaped the mediation of humanitarian relationships since the middle of the twentieth century. Together, the chapters illustrate the continuities and connections, as well as the differences, which have characterised the mediatisation of both states of emergency and acts of amelioration. The authors reveal and explore the significant synergies between the humanitarian enterprise, the endeavour to alleviate the suffering of particular groups, and media representations, and their modes of addressing and appealing to specific publics. The chapters consider the ways in which media texts, technologies and practices reflect and shape the shifting moral, political, ethical, rhetorical, ideological and material dimensions of international humanitarian emergency and intervention, and have become integral to the changing relationships between organisations, institutions, governments, individual actors and entire sectors.

Open Access (free)
in Global humanitarianism and media culture
From starving children to satirical saviours

This chapter examines how the development of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, has changed humanitarian NGOs’ media practices and subsequently altered the ways that supporters and publics are engaged. The chapter contributes an understanding of how people participate in these differing narratives on Facebook, and considers ‘everyday’ humanitarian actions so as to address the engagement that is often excluded in political discourses that focus on institutional politics. Facebook algorithms, along with the architects of Facebook, have now become the new ‘gatekeepers’ of humanitarian communication and NGOs have started to adapt their visual depictions of humanitarianism. In particular, this chapter proposes that the Facebook ‘like’, and users’ interaction online, changes the visual communication used by contributing to the governance of visibility.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Grassroots exceptionalism in humanitarian memoir

Memoir has for some time played a significant role in the expansion and interpretation of the humanitarian industry. For both the relief and development industries memoir is admirably suited as an ambassador from the field to the larger public, oriented as it is to personal experience and testimony. This chapter explores how humanitarian memoir generates an aura of authenticity much-needed by an industry reliant on public donations and on the perception of its status as a player outside the systems of state sovereignty and global capital. Analysing two founder narratives, this chapter considers the ‘humanitarian naive’ at work: the role of the ‘fool’ proves both revelatory and empowering, asserting the value of sui generis intelligence to produce humanitarian knowledge and even participate in global governance.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture

This chapter looks at the portrayal of Syrian children in media coverage of the Za’atari refugee camp. It analyses how reporting on children’s issues evolved over a three-year period and the role of aid agencies in the newsgathering process. Media coverage of the camp moved from a hard news approach, where children were framed in what could be perceived a negative manner, to a features-led approach with deeper context and nuance to articles, presenting children as more actively and positively involved in camp life. The chapter argues that the relationship between humanitarian organisations and journalists can be mutually beneficial and result in reporting with deeper context and nuance, whilst better protecting children along the way.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Journalism practice, risk and humanitarian communication

The news media creates regimes of pity in order to mobilise the public towards humanitarian causes. Such regimes of pity tend to obviate the power relations between those who suffer and the spectators. This chapter proposes a type of news coverage that creates a specific type of political solidarity and which does not reproduce the power relations that have been prevalent until now in most news narratives and humanitarian campaigns. It argues that journalism practice must adopt a view of ‘shared risk’ in which people embrace equally concerns about a common future. The notion of societal risk tends to create the type of collective uncertainty that brings about political action in ways that pity regimes do not.

in Global humanitarianism and media culture