The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism

The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism

by Lilie Chouliaraki


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The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism by Lilie Chouliaraki

This book addresses the question of how we can live together under cultural distance and political conflict. Drawing on classical thought, Aristotelian virtue ethics, and contemporary political and social theory, the book shows how stories of violence in the media may shape ethical dispositions and cosmopolitan consciousness among Western publics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780745642116
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 01/14/2013
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Figures viii

Acknowledgements ix

1 Solidarity and Spectatorship 1

Introduction: 'Find your Feeling' 1

The 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

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

'An exceptionally important work … We should be grateful to Lilie Chouliaraki for providing such inspiration and challenge.'

'How can humanitarian communication move beyond the pitfalls of both traditional humanitarianism (which can reinforce stereotypical images of helpless victims from the South) and of post-humanitarianism? Chouliaraki provides an alternative theoretical model based on theatricality, but the extent to which it can be enforced in practice remains to be seen. Indeed, this is precisely why her book – written with brio, depth and sensitivity – is so valuable, and deserves attention. The Ironic Spectator is a must-read for anyone professing to a level of social consciousness, and proves that academic debates can play a role in both fostering improved ethics in the context of a pervasive aspect of contemporary global life, as well as informing new humanitarian practices.'
Global Journal

'Lilie Chouliaraki is the Aristotle of mediated humanitarianism. With empirical finesse and theoretical bite, she shows how compassion for distant suffering turned from pity into glitz. And yet she defends theatricality as a potential moral force if checked by critical self-awareness. This book casts desperately needed light onto media and morality today.'
John Durham Peters, University of Iowa

'In this breakthrough investigation, Lilie Chouliaraki brings a "sceptical optimism" to bear on humanitarian politics today. With its theoretical finesse and rich cases, The Ironic Spectator shows the transformations solidarity has recently undergone, and still needs to make, as citizens seek an emotional connection to a tragic but distant world.'
Samuel Moyn, Columbia University, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History

'The Ironic Spectator is a profoundly arresting argument for our global and mediated times. With razor intelligence, Chouliaraki slices into old debates, salvages what’s still of use and structures new analytical constructs for the exploration of the possibilities of cosmopolitan solidarity in a "post-humanitarian" world. Brilliant, disturbing, humane.'
Simon Cottle, Cardiff University

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