This article offers a trajectory of humanitarian communication, which suggests a clear, though not linear, move from emotion-oriented to post-emotional styles of appealing. Drawing on empirical examples, the article demonstrates that the humanitarian sensibility that arises out of these emerging styles breaks with pity and privileges a short-term and low-intensity form of agency, which is no longer inspired by an intellectual agenda but momentarily engages us in practices of playful consumerism. Whereas this move to the post-emotional should be seen as a reaction to a much-criticized articulation between politics and humanitarianism, which relied on ‘universal’ morality and grand emotion, it is also a response to the intensely mediatized global market in which humanitarian agencies operate today. The article concludes by reflecting on the political and ethical ambivalence at the heart of this new style of humanitarian communication, which offers both the tentative promise of new practices of altruism and the threat of cultural narcissism
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