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Lecture 5

SOSA 3225 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Knitting, Humanitarian Aid, Susan Sontag

by

Department
Soc & Social Anthropology
Course Code
SOSA 3225
Professor
Laura Eramian
Lecture
5

Page:
of 6
Housekeeping
March&18th&Essay&Due&
Human-Rights-and-Humanitarianism:-Difference
Images&of&distant&suffering&get&used&in&undermining&ways&(although&not&often&
intended)
Issue&of&distant&suffering;&spectators&(us)&distant&in&time&and/or&place
Distinction&Sliwinski&deals&with&childhood&of&human&rights,&Malkki&deals&with&
humanitarianism&and&humanitarian&aid
Focuses&on&longterm&development&of&respect&for&human&life&and&human&
dignity,&in&times&of&crisis&and&peace,&does&not&require&crisis&moment&to&be&
mobilized&
Something&you&have&on&the&basis&of&being&a&human,&matter&of&obligation&and&
justice,&absolute&claim&to&
Promoting&rights,&no&claim&to&political&neutrality&often&has&to&do&with&actively&
taking&sides&
Human&Rights
Immediate&ethical&imperatives&to&reduce&suffering,&save&lives&in&times&of&
war/disaster&
Not&about&justice,&framed&in&compassion&terms&philanthropy,&charity,&not&
rights&you&can&claim&but&voluntary&gifts&you&can&choose&or&not,&establish&
relationship&of&dependency&
Distinguished&by&its&claim&to&political&and&ethical&neutrality,&based&on&impartial&
project&of&eliminating&suffering&and&pure&giving
Both&sides&of&conflicts&are&suffering&and&aided
Share&goal&of&improving&the&human&condition,&however&these&key&differences&make&
them&incompatible&
The$Politics$of$Distant$Suffering$
Friday,&February&26,&2016
8:32&AM
So&tied&up&in&forms&of&markets&(power&relations)
Humanitarian&aid&is&political&because&it&is&funded&by&states/state&militaries
Politics&of&distant&suffering&
Images-of-Distant-Suffering:-What-Atrocity-Photo's-Do
Sliwinski:&Kodak&in&the&Congo
Cant&overlook&this&importance
Role&of&photography&and&images&of&distant&suffering&in&the&making&of&human&rights&
promotion&possible
Not&just&triumph&of&moral&progress
Emergence&of&human&rights&is&fundamentally&a&story&of&atrocity&and&witness&
helplessness
Only&articulated&through&their&violation&
Can&conceive&of&human&rights&unless&we&can&conceive&of&their&loss
Are&we&changed&when&we&view&distance&suffering,&do&they&teach&us&anything
What&do&they&do
Ability&to&witness&suffering&is&modern;&spectatorship&is&made&possible&by&camera
Experience& entirely&produced&by&documentary&technology;&very&first&uses
Live&in&the&era&of&the&witness;&modern&life&allows&us&to&watch&at&a&safe&distance&
the&suffering&of&others
Opportunities&carry&diverse&number&of&uses&human&rights&promotion&being&one&
of&those
Ability&to&photograph&Congolese&is&a&condition&of&the&possibility&of&modern&
human&rights
How&Congo&Reform&Foundation&used&images&of&suffering&and&effort&to&
evoke&sentiment&in&the&viewer&
Basis&of&rights&promotion&is&an&audience&that&gets&directed&by&these&
images;&calls&to&action
Based&on&appeal&to&common,&abstract&human&rights&humanity&
Early&history&of&atrocity&photos
Susan&Sontag:&Regarding&the&Pain&of&Others&on&Distant&Suffering
Tension-Around-Photos
Tension-Around-Photos
Images&attempt&to&generate&moral&outrage,&bring&home&reality&of&what&is&happening&
to&people&in&far&away&places/times,&attempt&to&make&more&real&that&people&are&
suffering,&communicate&in&unmediated&way,&photo&makes&a&claim&to&be&a&direct&
connection&from&viewer&to&person&in&the&images,&claim&is&that&photos&are&objective&
and&transparent,&supposed&to&be&acting&as&'forensic&proof'&and&testimony&to&other&
people's&suffering,&photography&forces&us&to&engage&in&other&people's&pain/suffering,&
we&can&and&should&be&concerned
Photo&is&a&fleeting&and&momentary&fascination&without&deep&engagement&from&the&
viewer,&theatrical&types&of&presentations&are&problematic&because&they&produce&deep&
emotional&response&but&not&understanding&supposed&to&be&forensic&proof&but&are&
fleeting&and&don’t&demand&engagement&we&forget&about&difference&between&
spectator&and&sufferer
Moral&outrage,&generated&by&this&encounter,&can&lead&to&meaningful&change
Illusion&of&power&to&intervene&
One&thing&atrocity&photos&do&is&perpetuate&a&powerful&myth&missionaries&start&
photographing&and&gave&birth&to&powerful&idea&that&distant&sufferers&lives&are&in&the&
hands&of&sympathetic&strangers;&provide&spectators&with&the&illusion&that&we&can&
intervene&in&distant&suffering
In&practical&ways,&these&photos&help&us&rescue&some&kind&of&idea&about&ourselves&as&
equal&and&deserving
357:&demand&for&human&rights…&helplessness&in&face&of&the&photo.&Story&about&
ourselves…&ever&differed&wish&for&outcome&where&peoples&lives&are&valuabe
Images&that&attest&to&these&inequalities
Limits&to&understand&pain&of&others
What&emerges&is&the&problem&of&the&limits&of&our&own&capacities& and&responsibilities
Susan&Sontag:&coward&or&spectator;&neither&allow&us&to&do&something,&to&take&
meaningful&action
Violence-and-the-Imagination:-Humanitarian-Campaigns-
Malkki
Ethnography&set&in&Finland,&nothing&to&do&with&recipients;&works&with&aid&workers&and&