The Critical Research in Consumer Culture Network (CRiCC) network presents four events themed around Post-humanitarianism, Neoliberal Culture and Consumption from the 15-16th of September, 2015
Special Guest: Professor Lilie Chouliaraki, (Media and Communications, London School of Economics)
Lilie Chouliaraki is Professor in Media and Communications at the LSE, since 2007, and adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School. Chouliaraki’s main interest is in media ethics, broadly understood as the moral implications of mediated communication in contemporary public life. She has published extensively on the nature of mediated public discourse, particularly on the link between mediation, social action and cosmopolitan citizenship. Her main research focus lies in the mediation of human vulnerability, and she has spent the past ten years exploring three key domains within which human vulnerability appears as a problem of communication: disaster news, humanitarianism and war. In her work, notably the book The Spectatorship of Suffering (Sage 2006/2011), on the mediation of disaster news, she has shown the ways in which Western national and trans-national television networks follow hierarchical patterns in their narrative organisation of news on distant suffering and, hence, in the systematic distribution of ethical sensibilities towards distant others. In more recent work, on the mediation of solidarity, she has explored how the humanitarian imperative has changed in the course of the past fifty years. Looking into NGO appeals, rock concerts, celebrity advocacy and post-television disaster news, she has demonstrated how major institutional (the commercialisation of the aid and development field), technological (the rise of new media) and political (the fall of grand narratives) transformations have also changed the moral imperative to act on distant others who need our support. As a consequence, she argues, solidarity has today become not about conviction but choice, not vision but lifestyle, not others but ourselves – turning us into the ironic spectators of other people’s suffering. Her book The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism, (Polity, 2012) won the prestigious outstanding book award at the International Communications Association conference this year. She is currently writing on the mediation of war, where she explores the various public genres through which war has been mundanely communicated in our culture, from photojournalism to films and from memoirs to news. The aim is to better understand how our collective imagination of the battlefield and its sufferings, what we may call our ‘war imaginary’, has been shaping the moral tissue of public life, in the course of the past century (1914-2012).
Discourse Analysis Masterclass (Postgraduate Student Workshop)
Tuesday 15 September:
Venue: SH3004 (West wing, Senate House)
MA and PhD students working with discourse analysis in their research are invited to an informal workshop with Prof Chouliaraki to discuss their projects, their application of discourse analysis methods and how theories of discourse are relevant to their research. Prof Chouliaraki is a leading media discourse analyst, and has published widely on the subjects of discourse, communication and society. All are welcome, but as space is limited to a maximum of 30 participants so please RSVP to Jess Pereira (firstname.lastname@example.org). Readings will be assigned before the workshop.
Post-Humanitarianism: The contemporary politics of solidarity (Public Lecture)
Tuesday 15 September
Venue: Graduate Seminar Room (Southwest Engineering Building)
All are welcome, but please RSVP to Jess Pereira (email@example.com) for catering purposes.
Post-humanitarianism, Mediation and Consumption (Workshop)
Wednesday 16 September, 10h00 – 15h00:
Venue: WISER Seminar Room (5th Floor, Richard Ward Building)
“in capitalizing on the reflexive resources of the individual without offering a moral justification for action, the posthumanitarian style confronts the public it addresses with a mirror of their own world. In so doing, it runs the risk of failing to operate as an agent of ‘moral education’ – that is, failing to go beyond everyday playfulness so as to inspire and re-constitute the moral agency of Western publics along the lines of civic virtues such as solidarity with and care for vulnerable others” (Chouliaraki, 2010: 121)
Life in many contemporary societies is defined by two things: the saturation of everyday public spaces and practices with media forms, and constant invitations to consumption through social and media forms. At the same time, inequality is at its highest level ever, and awareness – especially in the privileged global north – about poverty, suffering and deprivation in the global south is growing. It is common to see western celebrities getting involved in causes aimed at saving or fixing some aspect of the south. In societies such as South Africa, the formations of consumer culture are tightly wound up with neoliberal power, and with extremes of inequality and injustice. Yet these issues are also globalised, partially though not exclusively, through global media discourses. How consumer-driven inequality is perpetuated and globalised through media discourses is an important question for researchers in the social sciences and humanities. To what extent have inequality, poverty and suffering become commoditised by neoliberal media actors and narratives? What possibilities for ethical connection and solidarity exist in consumer societies? How might they be produced, received, challenged and transcended in media discourses? These questions, and more arising from the intersection of theories of post-humanitarianism, mediation and consumption, will be the focus of this workshop.
The workshop will be structured around key readings and opportunities to discuss current research work. Space is limited to 12 participants. To apply, please send an abstract summarising your current research and a brief biography to Jess Pereira (firstname.lastname@example.org). Both academic staff and postgraduate students are welcome.
Humanitarian or Consumer? On the global politics of solidarity (Public Discussion Panel)
Wednesday 16 September, 16h30 – 18h30
Venue: WISER Seminar Room (5th Floor, Richard Ward Building)
Participants: Lillie Chouliaraki (LSE), Sarah Nuttall (WISER, Wits), Mehita Iqani (Media Studies, Wits)
Chair: Pamila Gupta (Wiser, Wits)
In the context of global inequality, is it possible for communication to transcend neoliberal power structures?
The aim of this panel is to bring together thinkers on consumer culture, in/equality, transnational flows and media formations to discuss from different conceptual perspectives and research trajectories the intersections between the idea of post-humanitarianism, which is most markedly notable in new forms of communicative appeal from global development and charity organisations, and consumer culture, which manifests in a variety of social forms from tourism, to shopping cultures, to literature, to celebrity. In the context of the growing wealth of the “haves”, and the increasing suffering of the “have-nots”, to what extent has the ethic of solidarity become appropriated by consumer culture?
All are welcome but please RSVP to Jess Pereira (email@example.com) for catering purposes.