The national identity politics of Danish humanitarianism

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Abstract

Studies into humanitarian communication have forcefully shown the current tendency towards individualisation and commercialisation in aid campaigning (e.g. Chouliaraki, 2012; Kapoor, 2012) and pointed out the gendered and colonialist representations in such campaigning (e.g. Barron, 2009; Clarke, 2009; Jefferess, 2002; Repo and Yrjölä, 2011). While these studies provide important insights, another side remains – that of collective identity narratives associated with humanitarian appeals. This paper posits that collective identity narratives have a vital importance in many humanitarian appeals and proposes to look beyond the mainstream US/UK contexts in order to make this point. The paper takes point of departure in the annual Danish aid telethon Danmarks Indsamling (Denmark’s Collection). Against the backdrop of the local identity politics in Denmark revolving around immigration policies and the aftermath of the so-called Muhammad Cartoon Crisis, the paper posits that the telethon represents a particular version of a national narrative. Two interconnected articulations of the local understandings of community (the Danish concept fællesskab) contribute to this narrative. Firstly, a version of national fællesskab, which envisages the nation as a divers, inclusive and outwardly caring community; Secondly, a version of global fællesskab, which links the Danish nation with a one-dimensionally depicted innocent childlike constitutive ‘Other’ in an affective economy of aid. These two versions of a collective identity narrative are seen to draw on the above-mentioned gendered and colonialist discourses while simultaneously engaging in local politics around diversity and national identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date6 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2015
EventGlobal Humanitarianism and Media Culture - University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Feb 20158 Feb 2015

Conference

ConferenceGlobal Humanitarianism and Media Culture
LocationUniversity of Sussex
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBrighton
Period06/02/201508/02/2015

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