Publication details

Imaginative geographies of distant suffering: two cases of the Syrian Civil War on television



Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Social & Cultural Geography
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Web Full Text
Field Earth magnetism, geography
Keywords Czech Television; distant suffering; imaginative geographies; mediation; Syrian Civil War; television news
Description The paper builds upon distant suffering studies and the ‘analytics of mediation’. It observes how television performances of suffering expose spectators to dispositions to feel, think and act towards each instance of suffering. It analyses the news coverage of civilians’ suffering in the Syrian Civil War that was presented by Czech public television broadcaster. The interpretation of imaginative geographies expands the analysis because of the need for more spatially sensitive approaches to distant suffering. Imaginative geographies coproduce diverse spacetimes and distant suffering studies often overlook how media performances are shaped according to spacetimes where suffering occurs. Two spacetimes are contrasted here; the Syrian Civil War before and after the Islamic State gained prominence in it. In both cases, the aim is to interpret in what ways the distance is translated into difference through imaginative geographies and how it shapes television performances of suffering. The analysis shows that Orientalist imaginative geographies appear in both cases. However, while in the first case imaginative geographies empower pity and dispositions to act towards suffering, in the second case they do not. It is because of the difference between Bashar al-Assad as a local Oriental persecutor and the Islamic State as the global threat.
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