Perseus’s shield : the politics of the body in humanitarian campaignsPart of : Γράμμα : περιοδικό θεωρίας και κριτικής ; Vol.11, No.1, 2003, pages 107-124
Bodies wrestling against social and cultural regulation
The starved, wounded or otherwise abused body predominates in the iconography of contemporary humanitarian campaigns (by organizations such as Amnesty International, Médecins sans Frontières and Action Aid), being an essential part of their distinctive rhetoric and mode of address. This particular way of visualizing the body has been widely accused of sensationalism, emotional manipulation and depoliticization. On the basis of the historical and cultural contextualization of the role that the image of the abused body has in the articulation both of humanitarian and of nationalist discourse, this paper analyzes the visual rhetoric of humanitarian campaigns with the aim, first, of revealing the contradictions and potentialities of this particular form of body politics; and, secondly, of investigating its significance to the constitution of post/trans-national moral and political communities.