Parodying humanitarianism online
Call for papers
Networking Knowledge – Special Issue
Parodying humanitarianism online
Abstracts of 200 words are invited from early career researchers by April 30, 2018, for consideration for publication.
This special issue calls for contributions that interrogates the role of online media parodies in complicating the rhetoric and practices of everyday humanitarianism.
Broadly, ‘parody’ can be defined as a humorous or a satirical piece that imitates the style or appearance of another piece of work, or the voice of its author. In the context of humanitarianism, our concern is with parodies that appear on online media platforms that provide a harmless ‘critique’ of various representations of humanitarianism, most often, the poorly contextualised, stereotypical and de-humanising fundraising and advocacy narratives and imagery, and forms of individual ‘do-gooding’. Examples include, comedian Trevor Noah’s UNICEF fly, Radi-Aid’s Africa for Norway, and Teju Cole’s piece, ‘The White-Savior Industrial Complex’. The central question that this special issue asks is influenced by a debate that Lisa Ann Richey (n.d.) prompts readers to, in a discussion on ‘satirizing everyday humanitarianism’: does such online parodies promote critical thought or add a further layer of complexity to contemporary humanitarianism’s increasingly commodified edifice?
This special issue is particularly seeking contributions that examine how the functions, practices, and ecologies of new media sites enable such forms of critiques of humanitarianism. We ask how online media parodies can be situated within theories of humanitarian communication and mediation, while also attempting to critically explore how the instantaneous and interactive nature of communications of digital technologies provides new opportunities and challenges in critiquing everyday humanitarianism. For example, drawing on Lisa Colletta (2009), how do online media allow for engagement between the satirist and the viewer that is fundamental to ensuring the effectiveness of a parody? Further, influenced by Leah Lievrouw (2011), can parodies be considered as a form of ‘culture jamming’ whose purpose involves ‘subverting and critiquing’ images and ideas of the mainstream humanitarianism media culture? Moreover, how do the communicative ecologies of new media allow for the re-shaping of understandings of the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ relationship, and do parody accounts, aided by new media, point towards key shifts in the traditional relations of communications power? We invite articles from across disciplines of media, communications, and culture, conflict and security, and international development, and those that offer new and fresh critiques on the ‘critiques’ of humanitarianism.
Within the context of new media, parodies, and humanitarianism, topics of interest for this special issue include, but are not limited to:
- Theoretical and methodological approaches
- Forms of online media parodies, purposes and practices
- New media ecologies and subversive spaces/techniques
- Strategies of persuasion and ethical considerations
- Parody as breaking stereotypes in humanitarian discourse
- Parody as challenging the traditional ‘us’ vs ‘them’ narrative
- Parody as reaffirming myths in humanitarian discourse
- Pubic engagement with parody
- Parody, right to represent and consent
Abstracts of 200 words are invited from early career researchers by April 30, 2018, for consideration for publication. Please submit abstracts to: Madhushala Senaratne (H.M.Senaratne@sussex.ac.uk). Abstracts must also include: name of author, affiliation, contact details, and 5-6 keywords. Selected authors will be notified by May 20, 2018. The deadline for submission of full papers (up to 6000 words) is July 30, 2018. We also call for expressions of interest from early career researchers keen in serving as assistant editors of the special issue.
 Colletta, L. (2009) ‘Political Satire and Postmodern Irony in the Age of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart’, The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 42, No. 5. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2009.00711.x
 Lievrouw, L. A. (2011) Alternative and activist new media, Cambridge: Polity Press