Humanitarianism, Activism, Media, Religion

The Italian Academy, Columbia University

Contemporary activist groups saturate our worlds with images and sounds. Seeking solidarity with different movements and publics, some groups use media complexes to generate outrage and others to invoke sympathy; some seeking to minimize religious, national, and regional differences and others working to intensify them. While distinctions between religious and secular activist media often seem self-evident, this panel asked what they might share. How do religious and secular forms of activism overlap? How do contemporary humanitarian and activist movements use complex networks of mediation? How do visions of suffering function when mediated and deployed globally? How do the formal properties of media signs and symbols constitute humanitarian and activist movements? Co-sponsored by the SSRC and Columbia University's Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, the panel included Birgit Meyer, Charles Hirschkind, Peter Redfield, and moderator Brian Larkin.