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Post-humanitarianism: humanitarian communication beyond a politics of pity

Chouliaraki, Lilie (2010) Post-humanitarianism: humanitarian communication beyond a politics of pity. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 13 (2). pp. 107-126. ISSN 1367-8779

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1367877909356720


This article offers a trajectory of humanitarian communication, which suggests a clear, though not linear, move from emotion-oriented to post-emotional styles of appealing. Drawing on empirical examples, the article demonstrates that the humanitarian sensibility that arises out of these emerging styles breaks with pity and privileges a short-term and low-intensity form of agency, which is no longer inspired by an intellectual agenda but momentarily engages us in practices of playful consumerism. Whereas this move to the post-emotional should be seen as a reaction to a much-criticized articulation between politics and humanitarianism, which relied on ‘universal’ morality and grand emotion, it is also a response to the intensely mediatized global market in which humanitarian agencies operate today. The article concludes by reflecting on the political and ethical ambivalence at the heart of this new style of humanitarian communication, which offers both the tentative promise of new practices of altruism and the threat of cultural narcissism.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 SAGE Publications
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2010 14:24
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2024 07:36

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