Within humanitarian discourse, there is a prevailing narrative: the powerful liberal heroes are saving the helpless, weak victims. However, the beginning of the 21st century marks the expansion of the digital revolution throughout lesser-developed states. Growing access to the Internet has enabled aid recipients to communicate with the outside world, giving them an unprecedented opportunity to reshape discourses surrounding humanitarianism. Through a comparative discourse analysis of Libyan Tweets, 1994 newspaper reports on Bosnia, and 2011 newspaper reports on Libya, this paper analyzes whether aid recipient discourse can resist the dominant humanitarian narrative and if that resistance can influence dominant discourse, fundamentally altering the humanitarian enterprise. I found Libyan Twitter users’ representations of aid and aid recipients, as well as their use of disruptive images and humor, challenged the dominant hero-victim narrative and had a limited, but meaningful impact on mass media discourse.
Noble, Ellen, "Social Media and the Transformation of the Humanitarian Narrative: A Comparative Analysis of Humanitarian Discourse in Libya 2011 and Bosnia 1994" (2013). Political Science Honors Projects. 42.
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