This symposium will explore new ways of discussing and analysing how suffering midst crises, catastrophes and wars can be politically constructed and mediated. Catastrophes with global spectatorship, and massively circulated representations of human suffering can function as political theatres in which humanity, human worth, citizenship, belonging, political significance and political power are projected, created and assessed. Humanitarian imagery and rhetoric can be used in justifying wars and power political acts. Suffering and basic human rights can work as motivations and legitimation for military and political agency. The tsunami in Japan, Haiti’s earthquake, the floods in Pakistan, the WTC-terror attacks, the war in Libya, or the civilian suffering in the Afghan or Somalia wars have all acted as spectacular dramas of a global scale. The suffering of the affected individuals has been understood, felt, reacted to, politicized or even forgotten in distinct ways. Humanitarian NGO’s, news media, political actors, states and the military all create and communicate various distinct types of suffering, different ways of encountering it, as well as different solutions and ways of alleviation. In the liberal world order, violent crises, vulnerability and ultimately suffering can invite and construct political and analytical windows of opportunity.
Dr. Pierluigi Musarò, IPK Visiting Scholar, NYU; Assistant Professor, Faculty of Political Science, Bologna University
Victims or heroes? Notes on the moral geography of the world.
Pierluigi Musarò’s research focuses on the links between political consumerism and citizenship, as well as between humanitarian action in developing countries and civic engagement, with special reference to the humanitarian discourse of compassion for the victims. Recent research and publications have examined the relationship between humanitarian marketing strategies, visual construction of human suffering and moral imaginary.
The Symposium is Chaired by Dr. Mika Aaltola, Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
15 December 2011: Deadline for abstract submission (250 words)
15 January 2012: Acceptance of abstracts confirmed
1 March 2012: Deadline for full papers (max. 8000 words)