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Michelle Moyd, Ph.D. History Department Indiana University—Bloomington African Studies Program Summer Institute – June 19, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Michelle Moyd, Ph.D. History Department Indiana University—Bloomington African Studies Program Summer Institute – June 19, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Michelle Moyd, Ph.D. History Department Indiana University—Bloomington African Studies Program Summer Institute – June 19, 2012

2  Invisible Children founded 2004  First film, Invisible Children: The Rough Cut focused on bringing attention to Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) activities in northern Uganda ◦ child soldiers and “night commuters”  Began touring with film and Ugandan survivors to raise awareness and encourage activism  Additional films  Kony 2012 launches in early March 2012

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5  Video goes viral, provoking massive outpouring of donations and widespread “awareness”  Ugandans, scholars, bloggers, journalists, activists, humanitarian workers produce volumes of largely critical commentary ◦ LRA no longer in northern Uganda ◦ Context lacking for wars and military intervention in east/central Africa ◦ Ugandan military’s role in crisis largely ignored ◦ Advocacy of a military solution ◦ Ignores activities of NGOS, Ugandans, working on same issues ◦ Ethics of charity ◦ Plays on stereotypes of helpless Africans in need of white saviors  IC criticized for finances, ties to evangelical Christian organizations, oversimplification of complex issues  IC defends itself; issues 2 nd video to address criticisms

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7 “Sudan-Congo border, April We’re all bored out of our minds waiting for endlessly stalled peace talks to resume. Invisible Children dudes have some fun by posing with SPLA soldiers. I uncomfortably photograph them having said amount of fun. Later, I worked with a colleague to try and publish a story about what we saw as their questionable practices, but we couldn’t get a publication to bite. Now, perhaps that’d be different [... ]” Freelance photojournalist Glenna Gordon, March 7, 2012

8  “This is a ridiculous theoretical standpoint, it does not undermine people’s perceptions of African nations or civilians it just offers a chance to help. The children that are encountering this torture and torment are not characters within a novel but real human beings and if your own arrogance can not let you see this then I feel sorry for you, this is not about the potential knock on effect for the future but the realities of right now. Stop wasting time critiquing this work and start helping to stop this horrendous excuse for a man. Human rights has made its entry into the social media embrace it and lets get more work of this nature brought forward.” (Reader response to LSE blogger Charlie Beckett article “Why I think the Kony 2012 campaign is wrong”, March 9, 2012; my emphasis added)

9  “Cover the Night” campaign largely fails  Teaching resources, commentary on Kony, LRA, Uganda, and African conflict become widely available  Heightened attention to ethics of donation, humanitarianism

10  Counter stereotypes  African humanity includes the full range of human experience  Hear African perspectives  Context is everything ◦ What is the history of Western involvement in Africa? ◦ What are some historical explanations for the LRA’s emergence? ◦ Where is the LRA now? ◦ What is going on in northern Uganda now? ◦ What would Kony’s arrest mean? To whom?  Channel slacktivism and clicktivism into meaningful actions – what does “awareness” do?

11  Recognize how different forms of media function to inspire, manipulate, inform, etc. ◦ Be critical of images (Kony 2012’s red, CGI representations of faceless thousands, etc.)  Promote responsible, respectful activism through researched positions

12  See handout  ACAS React and Respond: The Phenomenon of Kony 2012  Me  BBC, AllAfrica.com, Pambazuka.org, and many others


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