Humanitarianism and Modern Culture

Paperback | November 12, 2010

byKeith Tester

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It seems paradoxical that in the West the predominant mode of expressing concern about suffering in the Third World comes through participation in various forms of popular culture—such as buying tickets to a rock concert like Live Aid in 1985—rather than through political action based on expert knowledge. Keith Tester’s aim in this book is to explore the phenomenon of what he calls “commonsense humanitarianism,” the reasons for its hegemony as the principal way for people in the West to relate to distant suffering, and its ramifications for our moral and social lives. As a remnant of the West’s past imperial legacy, this phenomenon is most clearly manifested in humanitarian activities directed at Africa, and that continent is the geographical focus of this critical sociology of humanitarianism, which places the role of the media at the center of its analysis.

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It seems paradoxical that in the West the predominant mode of expressing concern about suffering in the Third World comes through participation in various forms of popular culture—such as buying tickets to a rock concert like Live Aid in 1985—rather than through political action based on expert knowledge. Keith Tester’s aim in this boo...

Keith Tester is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hull in England and Professor of Sociology at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea. He is the author of numerous books, including the prize-winning Animals and Society: The Humanity of Animal Rights (1991), Civil Society (1992), Media, Culture, and Morality (1994), Moral Cultu...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:144 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.98 inPublished:November 12, 2010Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271036788

ISBN - 13:9780271036786

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Out of “Africa”

2. Saving Birhan

3. Madonna and Child

Conclusion

References

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Tester charmingly revives the spirit of Roland Barthes’ Mythologies (1957) in a few wonderful, deconstructive readings of Bob Geldof’s photographs of Africa, which illustrate his claim that Western humanitarianism rests on a number of mythic images and aestheticizing notions of cultural difference, for example the "gorgeous Ethiopian."”

—Matthew Specter, Human Rights Review