Chapter 1 Communicating Solidarity

The Ethics of Representing Human and Nonhuman Distant Suffering

In: Like an Animal: Critical Animal Studies Approaches to Borders, Displacement, and Othering
Núria Almiron
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Núria Almiron reflects on the solidarity toward displaced humans and nonhumans from the perspective of communication ethics. The author examines Lillie Chouliaraky’s theory of an ethics of irony, which refers to the insincere stance that media and communication promote toward distant suffering. This examination is used to reflect on how the ethical discussion of the representation of distant human suffering—as in the case of migrants and refugees—is strongly shaped by the human-nonhuman binary. The discussion includes much of the criticisms raised against the political economy producing this binary, yet it fails to problematize it. Since racism and speciesism are intertwined, failing to critically address the binary limits the analysis and reinforces the root problem: the structural violence of the world system. The chapter argues that the discussion of the ethics of representing human distant suffering is incomplete, and even counterproductive, without a critical interspecies gaze.

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