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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Producing the ethical global subject : Amnesty International's Not Here But Now campaign and the limits of representation Arnold, Christine


The discourse of “global citizenship” is circulating throughout educational institutions in Canada with increasing prevalence, and yet, is rarely problematized nor called into question. This discourse and practice is steeped in notions of liberal humanism and moral goodness, resembling “the civilizing mission” of the colonial era, in which the “civilized European” travelled to “exotic” places to “tame and civilize savages”. This thesis is a theoretical inquiry into the production of the subjectivity of the global citizen, focusing on the visual as a site of production. Through an analysis of a visual human rights advocacy campaign produced by Amnesty International in Switzerland in 2006, entitled Not Here But Now, I ask the following questions: (1) How do the visual and textual elements of this campaign produce the subjectivities of the viewer and the viewed? (2) What does this tell us about the limits of representation? What are the constraints of NGOs in terms of interrupting the grammar of the representations they are embedded in? (3) How does this relate to wider questions and assumptions about global citizenship? Can it help us to imagine global citizenship otherwise? Theoretically, I draw on Donna Haraway’s (1988) concept of situated knowledge, Edward Said’s (1978) Orientalism, and Jacques Rancière’s (2004) dissensus. The goal of this thesis is to provide a framework for analysis and thinking about how one comes to understand what it means to be a global citizen in the West, and what kinds of actions this presupposes. By looking at one site of production (the human rights advocacy campaign), through a modality (the visual) that has received little attention to date in global citizenship studies, I hope to provide readers with a framework to guide their own analyses and unpacking of the assumptions embedded at other sites and through other modalities. Bringing such an analysis to the fore will hopefully allow for a more accessible, critical reading of the cultural texts that are embedded in our daily lives, and ultimately, a greater possibility for thinking global citizenship otherwise.

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