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The Ironic Spectator - Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism


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Table of Contents

Figures viii Acknowledgements ix 1 Solidarity and Spectatorship 1 Introduction: 'Find your Feeling' 1 Th e instrumentalization of humanitarianism 5 Solidarity without 'grand narratives' 9 The technologization of communication 15 The ethics of objectivity 21 Conclusion: on this book 24 2 The Humanitarian Imaginary 26 Introduction: communicating vulnerability 26 The theatricality of humanitarianism 27 Critiques of the theatricality of humanitarianism 36 The humanitarian imaginary 43 Conclusion: on the performances of the imaginary 52 3 Appeals 54 Introduction: the paradox of appeals 54 The crisis of the theatre of pity 55 The controversy around appeals 57 The reflexive styles of appealing 65 Reflexive appeals and their authenticity effects 73 Conclusion: the ambivalence of 'cool' activism 76 4 Celebrity 78 Introduction: the celebrity as expert performer 78 Theatre, celebrity, authenticity 79 The celebrity controversy 83 The performativity of celebrity humanitarianism 88 'Moments' of humanitarian performance 90 Celebrity and its authenticity eff ects 98 Conclusion: towards a utilitarian altruism 104 5 Concerts 106 Introduction: rock as ritual ceremonies 106 Aid concerts: communitas or cynicism? 108 An analytics of ceremonial performativity: Live Aid and Live 8 114 The authenticity effects of ceremonial humanitarianism 132 Conclusion: towards a strategic morality of solidarity 136 6 News 138 Introduction: the moral appeal of news 138 The theatricality of journalism 140 The controversy around television witnessing 144 The analysis of narrative aesthetics 149 News narratives: a typology of witnessing 153 The authenticity eff ects of news: from narrative to database 164 Conclusion: objectivity or therapy? 170 7 Theatricality, Irony, Solidarity 172 Introduction: the historical shifts of humanitarianism 172 Post-humanitarianism: solidarity as irony 174 Post-humanitarianism as neoliberalism 179 Beyond irony: solidarity as agonism 188 Conclusion: on being good 203 Notes 206 References 215 Index 232

About the Author

Lilie Chouliaraki is Professor of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics.


Nominated for the ICA Outstanding Book Award "This book achieves a rare combination of opening newanalytical and theoretical ground while retaining direct and lucidengagement with critical and urgent human concerns." The British Journal of Sociology " The Ironic Spectator , therefore, is not only an eminentwork of media studies scholarship that presents a detailed andinspiring analytical framework. Its theorization ofpost-humanitarianism and the aesthetic and sociopolitical questionsposed by new media practices deserves to earn it a wide readershipin all disciplines interested in contemporary popular culture andworld politics." European Journal of Communication "The significance of The Ironic Spectator for studentsand scholars of contemporary media, international relations,"development", and the broader social sciences, and, ideally,people working within media, for NGOs and INGOs, and the widerhumanitarian and development sectors, cannot be overstated." Social Semiotics "Chouliaraki conducts an impressive, interdisciplinaryanalysis. She embraces the paradoxes and ambivalences of eachgenre, presenting a state of the art critique, and thoroughlyanalysing the genre's past and present form in order to suggest howthe changes in communicative structure may affect how we areinvited to act on distant others." The Journal of Development Studies "Chouliaraki qualifies as a high priestess of the representation ofsuffering and how we engage with distant others. She dissects withgreat clarity exactly what is taking place in this posthumanitarian sensibility and how supporters are now being drawn into apparently care and show solidarity with distantsufferers." LSE Review of Books "As refreshing and enervating as a cold mountain spring on a hotday. Chouliaraki has extraordinary ability to condense and parsecomplex debates briskly." Journal of International Development " The Spectatorship of Suffering , by Lilie Chouliaraki,rapidly became a classic, present on almost every key and suggestedreading list on courses dealing with global media and internationaljournalism Therefore, The Ironic Spectator is a morethan welcome contribution to this field, offering an opportunity todiscuss one of the most pressing issues in media and journalismstudies. In this book, she deals with the issue of humanitariancommunication, offering a comprehensive set of arguments whichmakes us think truly out of the box." Digital Journalism "Lilie Chouliaraki's The Ironic Spectator is the bestjournalism book for 2013." Prof. Bob Franklin, Cardiff University; editor of JournalismStudies " The Ironic Spectator will have far-reaching impact, as itsarguments unsettle accepted paradigms in media ethics anddevelopment studies, but also in political communication,journalism, and social theory. Written in her distinctively lyricalprose, Lilie Chouliaraki's latest book inspires us to judge notonly the efficiencies but the ethics of humanitarian projects. Withit, we can no longer deny the infinite folly in failing to factorin the moral cost of self-centered communication." Journal of Communication "In 2006 Lilie Chouliaraki published The Spectatorship ofSuffering which is commonly considered to be a seminal workwithin the young and emerging field of research that concernsitself with the issue of mediated disasters and humansuffering...It is fair to say that Chouliaraki has raised the baronce more with her more recent contribution to this field, 'TheIronic Spectator', which discerns important differentiations,distinctions and transformations at work in the humanitarianmediation of human suffering while also reflecting on broadersocietal developments." International Journal of Communication "Chouliaraki provides us with an exceptionally rich, detailed andcomprehensive framework for understanding the moral role of themedia in our time. The Ironic Spectator ... offers a compellingaccount of how humanitarian communications have become increasinglyfocussed on the self, rather than the other, but also, perhaps moreimportantly, it offers an equally compelling normative vision ofwhat humanitarian communication should look like." Critical Discourse Studies "An exceptionally important work We should be grateful toLilie Chouliaraki for providing such inspiration andchallenge." Communications "How can humanitarian communication move beyond the pitfalls ofboth traditional humanitarianism (which can reinforce stereotypicalimages of helpless victims from the South) and ofpost-humanitarianism? Chouliaraki provides an alternativetheoretical model based on theatricality, but the extent to whichit can be enforced in practice remains to be seen. Indeed, this isprecisely why her book written with brio, depth andsensitivity is so valuable, and deserves attention. TheIronic Spectator is a must-read for anyone professing to alevel of social consciousness, and proves that academic debates canplay a role in both fostering improved ethics in the context of apervasive aspect of contemporary global life, as well as informingnew humanitarian practices." GlobalJournal "Lilie Chouliaraki is the Aristotle of mediated humanitarianism.With empirical finesse and theoretical bite, she shows howcompassion for distant suffering turned from pity into glitz. And yet she defends theatricality as a potential moral force ifchecked by critical self-awareness. This book casts desperatelyneeded light onto media and morality today." John Durham Peters, University of Iowa "In this breakthrough investigation, Lilie Chouliaraki bringsa 'sceptical optimism' to bear on humanitarian politics today. Withits theoretical finesse and rich cases, The Ironic Spectator shows the transformations solidarity has recently undergone, andstill needs to make, as citizens seek an emotional connection to atragic but distant world." Samuel Moyn, Columbia University, author of The Last Utopia:Human Rights in History " The Ironic Spectator is a profoundly arresting argument forour global and mediated times. With razor intelligence, Chouliarakislices into old debates, salvages what s still of use andstructures new analytical constructs for the exploration of thepossibilities of cosmopolitan solidarity in a 'post-humanitarian'world. Brilliant, disturbing, humane." Simon Cottle, Cardiff University "Lilie Chouliaraki provides us with excellent intellectual food forthought to keep us (academics, teachers, development experts , ) on our toes!" Aidnography Blog

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