In early March 2012 the Kony 2012 viral video took the world by storm. Attracting over 70 million views in less than a week from its release it was equally criticized and admired as an example of the power of social media. In this talk I will assess the optimism surrounding the opportunities that social media offer for humanitarian action. Drawing on the analysis of the phenomenally popular and controversial Kony 2012 campaign I observe that the architectures of social networking sites orientate action at a communitarian level which heightens their post-humanitarian style (Chouliaraki, 2012). However, an emerging new genre of reporting and commenting which I term “polymedia events” can potentially extend beyond the limitations of SNS communication by opening up the space for reflexivity and dialogical imagination.

Speaker: Dr Mirca Madianou, University of Leicester

Mirca Madianou is Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester. Her research examines the role of new communication technologies in the context of migration and transnational families in particular. She is the author of two books and several journal articles on new media and long distance relationships; migration and transnationalsm; media and nationalism; audiences (particularly the audiences for news media); and the role of emotions in mediated communication. Her research has been funded by the ESRC, ESF, the Mellon Foundation and CRASSH, Cambridge.