Within the growing literature in the political economy of humanitarianism, this paper focuses on ethical dilemmas raised by increased marketization. The aim of this article is to investigate the paradoxical relationship between humanitarianism as a project and the construction of an “emergency imaginary”, focusing on the ways in which aid agencies produce and disseminate images of human suffering. This article will first explore how the growth of humanitarianism in the last decades has been strongly correlated with the expanded use of image-based fundraising and awareness-raising campaigns. The focus will then examine the relationship between these images and the forging of “emergencies” aimed at persuading the audience to donate to aid projects. Finally, it will analyze how the humanitarian discourse shaped by fundraising appeals is playing an important role in shifting our attention from development to emergency assistance, as well as in establishing a moral geography of the world. Indeed, humanitarian aid rhetoric often portrays the wealthy global North as the “supranatural” performer of a civilizing mission in the underdeveloped South.

Living in Emergency: Humanitarian Images and the Inequality of Lives

MUSARO', PIERLUIGI
2011

Abstract

Within the growing literature in the political economy of humanitarianism, this paper focuses on ethical dilemmas raised by increased marketization. The aim of this article is to investigate the paradoxical relationship between humanitarianism as a project and the construction of an “emergency imaginary”, focusing on the ways in which aid agencies produce and disseminate images of human suffering. This article will first explore how the growth of humanitarianism in the last decades has been strongly correlated with the expanded use of image-based fundraising and awareness-raising campaigns. The focus will then examine the relationship between these images and the forging of “emergencies” aimed at persuading the audience to donate to aid projects. Finally, it will analyze how the humanitarian discourse shaped by fundraising appeals is playing an important role in shifting our attention from development to emergency assistance, as well as in establishing a moral geography of the world. Indeed, humanitarian aid rhetoric often portrays the wealthy global North as the “supranatural” performer of a civilizing mission in the underdeveloped South.
NEW CULTURAL FRONTIERS
P. Musarò
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/108800
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