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Humanitarianism, Communications and Change


Edited By Simon Cottle and Glenda Cooper

Humanitarianism, Communications and Change is the first book to explore humanitarianism in today’s rapidly changing media and communications environment. Based on the latest academic thinking alongside a range of professional, expert and insider views, the book brings together some of the most authoritative voices in the field today. It examines how the fast-changing nature of communications throws up new challenges but also new possibilities for humanitarian relief and intervention. It includes case studies deployed in recent humanitarian crises, and significant new communication developments including social media, crisis mapping, SMS alerts, big data and new hybrid communications. And against the backdrop of an increasingly globalized and threat-filled world, the book explores how media and communications, both old and new, are challenging traditional relations of communication power.


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Part Three: The Politics of Pity and the Poverty of Representation


The Politics of Pity and the Poverty of Representation p a r t t h r e e International charities or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) bring us a range of messages about global poverty through our letter boxes, newspapers, television screens, and other media. How do they help us visualise and under- stand global poverty? How do we connect them with our own lives? This chapter draws on a larger study on the media role of UK-based international development NGOs (INGOs) such as Oxfam, Save the Children, ActionAid, Christian Aid, Plan, World Vision, and War on Want (Dogra, 2014). The analysis of a full annual cycle of INGOs’ recent public messages demon- strates that they construct, and connect, the ‘first world’ or developed world and the ‘third world’ or majority world of developing countries, mainly of Asia, Africa and South America, through a double logic of ‘difference’ and ‘oneness’. This dualism enables them to show the global poor as different and distant from the developed world and yet like us by virtue of their humanity. INGOs’ messages project many colonial discourses even as they ironically erase this period of our connected his- tory and its legacies which continue to shape existing global economic structures, power relations, and the current state of poverty and prosperity across various re- gions. Shared histories are erased and replaced by shared humanity. Theorised in particular ways, the dualism is projected and reconciled across varied axes and a range of representations of people, space and issues. This...

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