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Performing Global Crises Conference 2022

Public, All university
Event type

Performing Global Crises is an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Performance of the Real Research Theme, The University of Otago, Ōtepoti/Dunedin, New Zealand.

Wednesday 30 November – Friday 2 December 2022

Keynote Speakers

Professor Lilie Chouliaraki

Beyond verification: Citizen videos from conflict zones and the ethics of embodiment

Platform journalism in the global North is caught within a fragile political economy of emotion and attention, defined, on the one hand, by the proliferation of citizen-filmed affective news and, on the other, by the risk of fake news and a technocratic commitment to verification. While the field of Journalism Studies has already engaged in rich debates on how to rethink the truth conditions of citizen-produced content in platform journalism, I argue that it has missed out on the ethico-political function of such content as testimonials of lives-at-risk. If we wish to recognize and act on citizen-driven videos of conflict as techno-social practices of witnessing human pain and death, I propose, then we need to push further the conceptual and analytical boundaries of the field. Drawing on examples from the Syrian conflict, I provide an analysis of the narrative strategies through which these videos acquire truth-telling authority and I reflect on what is gained and lost in the process.

About Lilie Chouliaraki

Lilie Chouliaraki is Professor of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work focuses on the ethical and political complexities of communicating human suffering in the media with particular emphasis on four domains in which suffering appears as a problem of communication: disaster news; humanitarian and human rights advocacy; war & conflict reporting and migration news. Her most recent work is on "the cultural politics of victimhood" in western societies. Her book on the topic is forthcoming in Columbia University Press, New York (June 2023). Other book publications include "Discourse in Late Modernity" (1999), "The Spectatorship of Suffering'"(2006), "The Soft Power of War" (ed., 2008), "The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism" (2013, "The Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication" (2021) and "The Digital Border. Migration, Technology, Power" (New York University Press, 2022). Lillie has also published more than seventy articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. Her work has been published in French, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Danish, Greek and Chinese; she is the recipient of two LSE Teaching Excellence Award and four international awards for her research publications, more recently the Outstanding Book of the Year award of the International Communication Association (2015, for "The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism"); as well as a lifetime Fellowship of the International Communication Association (2020).

Associate Professor Robert Huish

How Global Citizenship Education Performs Through Crisis

How crises are imagined of, planned for, and taught about reveals important disconnections in global citizenship education. Global citizenship education is widely grounded in building connections through spaces of performance. Educators and students take on different roles from the class, to their own communities, to seeking opportunities to "help" in other communities. How then does such pedagogy prepare students for crises in real time, be it war, climate adversity or even a pandemic?

In this presentation, Dr Robert Huish argues that global citizenship education could benefit from a deeper exploration of building skills and competencies that allow learners to handle complex crises as agents, actors and allies. He draws examples from his experience in designing a class simulation of real-time pandemic management at Dalhousie University, and his training as a firefighter in Halifax Nova Scotia. Taken together, Dr. Huish suggests that global citizenship skills can indeed prepare the next generation for global crises through a pedagogy of compassion and confidence. It is a call to move global citizenship education to a place where students can face panic in crisis, rather than be panicked by crisis.

About Dr Robert Huish

Dr Robert Huish is an Associate Professor in International Development Studies at Dalhousie University. His research broadly explores global health inequities, and more extensively on the impacts of sanctions on health and human security. In particular, Dr. Huish has focused on the crisis of sanctions in Cuba in his book "Where No Doctor has Gone Before: Cuba's Place in the Global Health Landscape", and he has also published widely on the impacts of sanctions in North Korea. Dr. Huish was named one of Canada's most innovative educators in the Globe and Mail's "Our Time to Lead" series. Dr. Huish is also the host of "GDP: The Global Development Primer Podcast", which is available wherever you get your podcasts. He also proudly serves as Firefighter and Pump Operator with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency.

Associate Professor James Headley

Putting Russia back on the world stage: performing great power-ness in words, images and force

At the Munich Security Conference in February 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked his audience – and the wider world – with an outspoken attack on Western states and their disregard for Russia, and reminded them that Russia has a long history as a strong, independent actor. Putin's complaints were in fact not new, but it was the way in which he dropped the mask of diplomacy that made them heard this time. Was this a performance intended to provoke a response? Or was it a rather nervous but emotional outpouring of real sentiments? Regardless, it provided the script for subsequent action that above all was designed to show that Russia is a great power with its own interests that it would pursue by all means at its disposal, culminating in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine fifteen years later. Now, a global audience watches the highly visible actions of the protagonists of the war and joins in their battle of narratives. But it is deadly real for the people of Ukraine.

This talk examines the war in Ukraine in terms of performance/performativity, drawing on recent work in International Relations (IR) theory, including the so-called 'aesthetic' and 'practical' turns, constructivist writing on state roles and identities, and notions of performative diplomacy and popular geopolitics. It explores the differing depictions of the leaders – President Zelensky, the actor who previously played the president, with his skilful appeals to international audiences, and President Putin, the bare-topped man on the horse who has come to see himself as embodying Russia and now acts as a latter-day Tsar keeping his subservient courtiers at a distance – and the roles the two states project to the wider world: Ukraine as victim of naked aggression, Russia as a great power that stands up to the bullying West and its lackey; Ukraine as the anti-Russia of the east or as Russia's Other that isn't an Other. These depictions have been many years in the making. I will show how the Putin regime prepared the narrative of its war, particularly by the glorification of the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War and vilification of Ukraine as a Nazi state, making the 'special military operation' a re-enactment of World War II; how Russian culture-makers have contributed to creating an image of Russia and Ukraine that reinforces this narrative from below; and how Ukrainians respond in their own ways in front of the watching world.

About James Headley

James Headley is an Associate Professor in the Politics Programme at the University of Otago. His research interests are in Russian foreign policy, the European Union, nationalism, and International Relations theory. He is the author of Russia and the Balkans: Foreign Policy from Yeltsin to Putin (Hurst and Co./Columbia University Press). He completed his PhD at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.

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