Category Archives: Creativity

The theatrical stage for humanitarianism

While the structure of communication in humanitarian campaigning is changing, we are still witnessing campaigns that illustrate the classical and modern West public culture based on the significance of the mediation of suffering and vulnerability as catalysts for solidarity and compassion.
By showing three examples of campaigning from Amnesty International, Doctors of the world and Unicef, I try to exemplify some of the arguments of Lilie Chouliaraki about the theatrical stage for humanitarian communication and its spectacles of suffering.
Amnesty International: “Fireworks from Aleppo”

Amnesty International in Denmark launched a campaign on January 2017 that reconstructed Danish New Year’s Eve built from the sounds of bombs falling in Syria. It was broadcasted across Denmark the days following New Year’s Eve. The campaign presents a direct message to the spectator that says “we hope these sounds remind you of a wonderful news year’s eve. In Aleppo they remind people of something completely different. That is because these sounds are recordings of the bombings of Aleppo”.
Doctors of the world: “Indifference is a disease”

In December 2016, Doctors of the world launched the campaign “Protect Syria: not like us” in US. The almost 2 minute’s video highlights the narrative of the “West” towards refugees with messages such as “they are not like us”, “They are all terrorists” and “They should go back where they came from”. All these titles are combined with the voice of those ones who we refer to highlighting with their voices and testimonies that they are not that different than us. The campaign concludes with an explicative message of “They didn’t choose to be refugees” and poses the question of “Why are we choosing to let them die?”.
Unicef: “Granatapfel”:

Unicef launched in January 2017 a film in Germany about children in war zones. This movie portrays children as victims of a world that they don’t understand. The main characters of the story are a mother and a girl in a warzone. The girl is chasing what for her is an apple but in reality is a grenade. This story is an attempt to assimilate the spectator with the characters by somehow bringing us to that situation. This aim becomes clear on the message at the end of the video that says “Imagine you and your child in a warzone”. The video finishes with the precision of a number “Every 20 minutes a child dies in a warzone”.

Since those campaigns are a mix of sounds, images and recreations of different realities, they are calling for the imagination of the spectator. This is what Chouliaraki calls as a “humanitarian imaginary” and defines it as a viable space for Western populations to engage with non-Western sufferers. Similarly, this space presents a distant suffering that can threaten the sympathetic identification factor, that catalyses on the emotions of indignation (towards the injustice of suffering) and empathy (care towards the victims) and enable us to imagine ourselves as political actors. This morality of revolution or the modern pity (idea of action for salvation or revolution that separates those who suffer from those who not) (Boltanski: 1993) is within the moral education of the west, according to Chouliaraki, and is represented in all the campaigns above, under a call for empathy, indignation and compassion. Likewise, we can highlight the separation of “us” and “they” in all the campaigns and we can see and attempt to assimilate the sufferers and the spectators with their final messages.

Chouliaraki, after a wide criticism towards the west model of mediation of humanitarianism claims the need to develop a novel approach to humanitarianism that recognizes the perspective to life in a tangible manner. Stating that the citizen is an ironic spectator of other people’s suffering. Thus, rather than engaging with solidarity of distant others, she proposes to use ironic solidarity to engage with the self and relating solidarity with choice, lifestyle and ourselves.

To finish with, I have gathered some examples to exemplify this tendency than is increasingly used by campaigners.

Garde-Mange Pour Tous: “Help us fill the emptiness”

fill the emptiness.jpg

Smoke free life: “Forbidden”


Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity: “Ordinary World – Trolley”


The aim of those campaigns is to encourage people to act, since it is the essence of humanitarian campaigns. Although in those ones with new approach in particular the individual is conceived as the main character of the campaign, what makes the spectator less distant from its message.

This model seems effective in a growing narcissist West where the new approach to humanitarianism is about the self rather than engaging with the solidarity of distant others (Chouliaraki: 2013).


Chouliaraki, L., (2013) The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism. Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity.

Boltanski, L. (1993) Distant Suffering: Morality, Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.





#Mamilolivre (#free nipple)

Continuation of the Personal stories for Social Change: #lifeinleggins and #Mamilolivre post:

Mamilo Livre (Free Nipple) is a Brazilian campaign launched in September 2015 by a psychologist and blogger Letícia Bahia and photographer Julia Rodrigues. Their aim was to challenge the objectification of women’s breasts related to sexual meanings and they were claiming the individual’s sovereignty over one’s body.

“Nipple Freedom is, above all, a symbolic dispute over the right to attribute meaning to one’s own body. So we’re the ones saying that our nipples can mean, at a certain moment, maternity. Other times, politics. And other times even sex. But when – and only when – we say so”. (Mamilo livre manifesto)

The campaign encouraged people to print pictures of women and men bare chests from the campaign’s website and post them in public spaces. The initiative had positive response.

Nonetheless, the movement changed its course when Facebook blocked all the portraits featuring women and suspended the profiles of those who published them. To challenge Facebook’s censorship, Julia and Letícia came up with the idea of dividing the picture of the nipple into four different photos and publish them simultaneously, Facebook will display it as a mosaic, where the nipple will be completely visible although it will not be in one single photo, and thus not detected by its system.

Moreover, the campaign seemed to take another angle. “Those photos are part of an experiment of mine inside Facebook. People from all genders posed for me with their bared chests, without sexual or pornographic appeal. Which photos will be considered improper for the public or for the Facebook system? What are the real differences between one portrait and another? What is offensive in one nipple that isn’t in the other?” (Mamilo livre website)

Overall, this is another example of a successful protest campaign where active participation and support were required. I encourage all readers to gather more examples to see how new technologies allow to integrate citizens to activism and since it is a new communication line, it would be very interesting to see activists’ creativity.

I also encourage all readers to advocate for the initiative and to print some pictures and glue them in your city! You can download them from the campaign’s website.



Hodges, Simon. 2014. What’s so special about storytelling for social change? (Online). Available:

Wallace, Alice. 2016. The Bahamas: Interview with Founder of #LifeInLeggings (online) Available:

Mendes Franco, Janine. 2016. Caribbean Women Take Their Power Back by Sharing Stories of Sexual Abuse Via the #LifeinLeggingHashtag (Online). Available:

Rodrigues, Julia. Bahia, Leticia . Mamilo livre.

Sganzerla, Taisa. 2016. Brazilian Activists Outsmart Facebook’s Censorship of the Female Nipple. (Online). Available:

The women’s right to choose campaign; a source of inspiration

Continuation of the Polish women on strike! post

A source of inspiration

Throughout history, we might have to thank lots of women and men for having fought for women rights and for being an exceptional source of inspiration; the Parisians, for example, that in front of the Palace of Versailles during the French Revolution were claiming women’s right to vote. Or when on the 8 of May 1857 a group of women workers in New York submitted a proposal to improve their working conditions. We also have to thank the suffragettes in the UK and the feminists of the late 19th century in US, opposed to the legalization of abortion, and so on.

By comparing different campaigns (similar issues) throughout history, we realize that the practices used in civil society for advocating change to decision makers and the way to tackle them haven’t change much over the years. The “outside track”  that Paul Hilder defines as one of the two approaches of campaigning(popular mobilizations and social movements which actively involve a wider public in making claims on power) is present in all the campaigns we have mentioned.

For instance, the women’s right to choose campaign in US. I would like to share with you the Huffington post article 21 Inspirational Images Of Women Standing Up For The Right To Choose; it’s a historical review of campaigning for women’s right to choose in US from 1935 to the present. I took some “inspirational” examples.


1967: Birth Control information on New York buses is held up for scrutiny by Marcia Goldstein, the publicity director of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by H. William Tetlow/Fox Photos/Getty Images)


1971: Demonstrators demanding a woman’s right to choose march to the U.S. Capitol for a rally seeking repeal of all anti-abortion laws in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 1971. On the other side of the Capitol was a demonstration held by those who are against abortion. (AP Photo)


1973: Pro-abortion rights campaigners at a demonstration in favor of abortion in front of the American Hotel in mid-town New York, where the American Medical Association is holding its annual convention. (Photo by Peter Keegan/Keystone/Getty Images)


1974: A reproductive rights demonstration, Pittsburgh, PA, 1974. (Photo by Barbara Freeman/Getty Images)


1986: Pro-abortion rights campaigners at a National March For Women’s Lives in Washington DC, 9th March 1986. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)


1999: Protesters organized by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League demonstrate across the street from the hotel in New York where Republican Texas Governor and presidential hopeful George W. Bush appeared at a reception 05 October, 1999. (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)


2013: Women hold up signs during a women’s pro-abortion rights rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Source: Huffington Post website, Jan 21, 2015

Although the fact that the same problems have been tackled for years may lead to problems of legitimacy, campaigning in the present has also advantages such as the power of the media and new technologies in supporting mass mobilization (Hilder, Caulier Grice, Lalor: 2013)

After those images, it’s easier to carry on with the fight; a long road lies ahead of us and with examples like the “Black Protest” movement, we are demonstrating we are ready for it.



Liz Hutchins. Friends of the Earth. Campaigning for change: Lessons from History

Nina Bahadour, 2015.21 Inspirational Images Of Women Standing Up For The Right To Choose. The Huffington post.

Paul Hilder, Julier Cautier-Grice, Kate Lalor, 2013. The Young Foundation. Contentious Citizens.

Polish women on strike!

(Post of October 2016)

For the inauguration of this blog, I would like to talk about the “Black Protest Movement” in Poland. An issue that is firmly on the current social and political agenda and is an example of civil society’s capacity to campaign. Moreover, I would like to relate it to other historical campaigns that might be its source of colors (inspiration).

What happened?

The Polish parliament has rejected draft legislation to allow abortion until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy by 240 votes to 173. Abortion is currently permitted only in cases of rape, incest or medical complications for the mother or child and this law would see doctors who perform abortions and women who undergo them face up to 5 years in prison.

Prompt response: Opponents and the Media

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana, Campaigning for Change (lessons from history), p.11

If I may be allowed to paraphrase the 19th century Spanish poet, history is a good source of inspiration.

The opponents of the polish law had a prompt reaction; lots of protests and social media campaigns have been claiming the woman’s right to take decisions over her own body. And I’d like to think that this quick response and its effective organization, is due to all the battles that other women in other countries have done over the course of history to win the recognition of this essential right. For example, the inspirational Icelandic protest action from back in 1975, when the 90% of women in Iceland went on a strike.


A good response of the social media resistance campaign #CzarnyProtest (Black Protest) was shown on Monday 3 October. More than 20,000 protesters gathered on Warsaw’s Central Square. The Black Protest movement appears to be gaining momentum, which participation in social media continuing to grow, for instance, the protest is no longer restricted to Poles; people from around Europe and the United States have joined the protest movement, sharing photos and posts expressing solidarity with Poland’s pro-choice demonstrators.


Those responsible for the “Black Protest” campaign are not only linked to our history but are dealing well with the new network age we are in. For example, the activist group “Women on waves” sent the first “Abortion drone” from Germany to Poland with the methods to end with an unwanted pregnancy.

Woman holds hanger with the Polish flag attached to it as she takes part in abortion rights campaigners' demonstration

A woman holds a hanger with the Polish flag attached to it as she takes part in an abortion rights campaigners’ demonstration “Black Protest” in front of the Parliament in Warsaw, Poland October 1, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

October 18, the Huffington Post

'Woman Strike' Against Abortion Ban In Poland.

Polish women protest in the ‘Women strike’ campaign against a proposed near-total abortion ban in Poland on October 3, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland (Photo: Getty Images)

October 18, the Huffington Post

A source of inspiration (continue reading) ->

Project Life Jacket: Refugees ARE also humans beings

Project Life Jacket is a new outreach campaign about the perception of refugees in Europe. Intending to portray the displaced as people and no longer as refugees, they are asked to share their “normal” past lives. Their past lives are drawn in their life jacket, the item that changed everything.

Project Life Jacket is an initiative launched by The Voice Of Thousands, Borderfree and Schwizerchrüz organizations and produced by the advertising agency Jung von Matt.

Refugees for People

The campaign, with a new approach of portraying refugees in the Media, challenges all the other sorts of communication and messages we have been seen in the Media during the refugee crisis. Or even before, that we also had refugees seeking for asylum in Europe coming from another countries in war.

And it is when the possibility for an alternative vision of a problem arises that I, personally, understand the power of “schemata of interpretation” that Goffman defines as a frame (what enable individuals to locate, perceive, identify and label events between their life space and their world at large). Since the fact of “identifying” is something necessary for people to understand facts, we, communicators, have to be very careful when framing to avoid making the mistake of stereotyping and therefore diverting the issue away.

The message of the campaign is framed in a very concrete and powerful way: Refugees are normal people.

The storyline is held by individuals sharing their personal lives, an approach closer to the public.

And the initiative uses frame alignment by stressing commonality; refugees have had normal lives just like European citizens have before they had to flee leaving their lives behind.

It seems clear that Jut von Matt campaigners are aware of the importance of frame alignment (when individual’s interests, values and beliefs are complementary to Social Movements Organizations’ activities goals and ideologies), seen as a necessary condition for participation (Snow, Rochford, Worden and Benford: 1986), since their ultimate goal is represented by the mobilizing message of “Help Refugees Now”.

The refugee crisis have passed through different stages and have had different reactions from people. This campaign questions all this stages by giving a totally different approach of stop seeing refugees as something alien to us and finding similarities instead, to be abe to emphasize and act.




The Voice Of Thousands, Borderfree and Schwizerchrüz. 2016. Available:

Snow, David A. Rochford, E. Burke. Worden, Jr., Steven K. and Benford, Robert D. 1986. Frame alignment processes, Micromobilization and Movement Participation. Vol 51, No. 4, pp. 464-481


Personal stories for Social Change: #lifeinleggins and #Mamilolivre

“Radical Subjectivity”

Despite the negative effects new technologies have brought into society, there are also positive things, particularly campaigners are taking advantage of it.

Internet is a democratic tool which allows anyone with online access to communicate, express opinions, and organize and promote protests (Romanos and Sábido: 2013). Since everyone has access to it, the unidirectional communication of traditional media becomes obsolete and the need of a new (bidirectional) language pattern arises. The participation of audience in digital campaigning is called Citizen Media.

Moreover, for years now, we have been protesting for similar causes. Therefore, we need to find new ways to engage people within those issues. “We need new narratives that connect with peoples’ deepest motivations and promote more radical action. Stories engage people at every level – not just in their minds but in their emotions, values and imaginations, which are the drivers of real change” (Hodges: 2014)

Thus Internet seems like a good platform to explore these new narratives and to get people to participate actively to campaigns. In addition, feeling part of the “story” almost guarantees the involvement. As Hodges states, “we feel compelled to listen when we ourselves are included in the storyline”.  The same author presents the term “Radical subjectivity” as the new communication line based on personal stories or voices.

This approach is generally used by activists and campaigners in Social Networks and is known as Digital activism. Twitter, for instance, is being increasingly used as a platform to build campaigns for social change together with the audience (Hashtag activism).

I have chosen two campaigns (#lifeinleggins and #Mamilolivre) that reflect how participation and “subjectivity” are key points for the success of a campaign.



#Lifeinleggins is a Facebook and twitter campaign, launched on the 25th of November 2016, that gives Caribbean women the space to share their stories of sexual harassment, created by two Barbadian women who wanted to demonstrate the high degree of sexual harassment in the Caribbean culture.

A survey carried in nine Caribbean countries reported that the sexual initiation of 48% of adolescent girls was “forced” or “somewhat forced.” The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Latin America and the Caribbean Region of the World Bank report noted, “While the worldwide average for rape was 15 per 100,000, The Bahamas had an average of 133, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 112, Jamaica 51, Dominica 34, Barbados 25 and Trinidad and Tobago 18.” (Stop street harassment: 2016).

This campaign is adding a face and a voice to these statistics and women of all ages, ethnicities and economic backgrounds have been sharing alarming stories about their own experiences. Here are some of them:

#LifeInLeggings He was asked to watch the kids while Mom went to the store. I was three. He told me to come sit on his knee. I said no. You smell. He made me sit on his knee. Pulled apart my baby legs and ripped my panties off and stuck his fat calloused fingers inside of my vagina. I cried. He said he would make my mother beat me. I was afraid. I hate you” (Crystal Roslyn Mary Granado).

#lifeinleggings Walking with my key in my hand, ready at all times to be used in self defence. Looking behind me at least 3 times before I reach my car. Checking the back seat before I open the door. Opening the door quickly, slamming myself on the seat. Shut the door and lock doors immediately. Sigh. Start ignition. Drive” (Cho Sundari decribes).

#lifeinleggings walking home and receiving 17 catcalls (yes I counted) 11 of which were highly inappropriate. “I want one of them bubbies in my mouth, wish that skirt would blow lil higher, left that lipstick pun muh nuh” etc. One guy slowed his car and offered $400 to go for “a ride”.” (Nia Goddard).

So many women have participated to this recent campaign and so many have identified with the others’ story, creating a common support to each other and stating, steadily, a global picture of sexual harassment culture in the Caribbean. Moreover, this campaign is intended to achieve global visibility, as the founder of #lifeinleggins explains, “I did intend for it to spread through the Caribbean. Rape culture isn’t just a Barbadian issue; it’s a Caribbean issue as well as a global one, so I know that support would pour in from the other countries”.

#LifeInLeggings started as a simple idea, and a group of dedicated women worked together to make it region-wide conversation. (Stop street harassment: 2016).

Another example of Citizen activism is #Mamilolivre in Brazil.


Hodges, Simon. 2014. What’s so special about storytelling for social change? (Online). Available:

Wallace, Alice. 2016. The Bahamas: Interview with Founder of #LifeInLeggings (online) Available:

Mendes Franco, Janine. 2016. Caribbean Women Take Their Power Back by Sharing Stories of Sexual Abuse Via the #LifeinLeggingHashtag (Online). Available:

Rodrigues, Julia. Bahia, Leticia . Mamilo livre.

Sganzerla, Taisa. 2016. Brazilian Activists Outsmart Facebook’s Censorship of the Female Nipple. (Online). Available:







Refugee crisis: call for emotions

Today, we are witnessing several never-ending armed conflicts around the world that are destroying our civilization and therefore, humanitarian aid is becoming more and more urgently required.

For instance, the Refugee conflict, that has been present for a long time now, has been calling for help from people since the beginning, as some governments have turned their backs.

Governments, non-governmental organizations, activists, communication professionals and individuals, have contributed over the course of 5 years to spreading awareness and mobilizing citizens.

These tasks have been crucial to present the reality of the conflict, the truth out of many truths. Nonetheless, all those actors have used a strategy in order to get a reaction from people.

In this post I explore EMOTIONS as one of the factors that make people taking action. Moreover, I give context describing sensitization campaigns within different platforms.

Emotions and social movement

“Society is the unique whole to which everything is related”
Primitive Classification, Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss

Society, as a conceptual form, has established a structure where emotions, among other factors, are culturally constructed. In this regard, emotions are rational since they are collectively shaped and based on cognitions.

According to the sociologist James M. Jasper:

“strong emotions accompany protest but such emotions don’t render protestors irrational; emotions accompany all social action providing motivation and goals. Social movements are affected by transitory, context-specific emotions, usually reactions to information and events”
The emotions of protest: Affective and social reactive emotions in an around social movements, James J Jasper.

Jasper presents emotions as causal mechanisms shared in a group that constitute our ideas and desires. He looks at different emotions and how they contribute to social mobilization and engagement, and states that not all work the same way. Also, he explores how different emotions interact with one another.

He defines three kinds of emotions: reactive, that creates temporary responses to events such as anger, grief, indignation and shame; affective, as more permanent feelings such as hatred, love, loyalty, trust and respect; moods, somewhere in between such as compassion, cynicism and enthusiasm.

As a case study, I will look at which routes of protest have been taken within communication during the refugee crisis and which emotions have been addressed to.

Refugee crisis: Call for emotions

I have chosen recent and old campaigns that speak for themselves and I have tried to gather a variety of examples addressed to different emotions.


UNHCR, 2007,”It’s great to be a refugee”| Agency: BBDO Canada
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2009, “Stockings” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2009, “Cigarette” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2012, “Dilemma 2” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2016, “Electric Pole” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


The Hamdi Foundation, 2014,”What if Manhattan”| Agency: Miami ad school
Whatch video
See campaign


Amnesty International, 2015,”Refugees”| Agency: Cossete
See all campaign

alan kurdi.jpg

Exhibited at Arcola theatre, London, 2016,”The misplaced child”| Anonymous
See exhibition


Caritas, 2015,”Barbed wire”| Agency: DDB
See campaign


Nike, 2015,”Miles for refugees”| Agency: Miami ad school
See campaign

rij-rusted_spoon_poster_copy_aotw.jpgRefugees International Japan, 2016,”Rosted Spoon”| Agency: Ogilvy
See all campaign


Kizilayi, 2016,”Ireland”| Agency: Lowe
See all campaign


Oxfam Intermon, Siria, 2013 | Pablo Tosco
See exhibition Sin Filtros, in Madrid, 2016


Doctors without borders, 2016,”Vlog ep. 01″
Whatch video

And to finish with, I present, in my opinion, the best initiative that has been launched in order to engage people into the refugee crisis.  This campaign, allows viewers to follow in the footsteps of migrants and refugees as they complete their journey. I recommend to experience it.

two billion miles.png

Channel 4 news, 2016,”Two Billion Miles” | BBC
See the initiative

Jasper defines emotions as a social construction and therefore they can be rational. However, emotions need a interpretation to become effective and therefore are subjected to a personal “construction”. Whatever are the emotions these campaigns arouse and whatever are the tones of communication, in my opinion and according to my interpretation, they make feel something.

“a photograph is not the reflection of reality, but the reality of that reflection” (Shaughnessy and Stadler 2005:78)

These campaigns have shown us the truth out of many truths or, in other words, the reality out of many realities. But it’s just through emotions and therefore feelings that we can approach to it because it’s something we all have and recognize, although in different forms; irony make me feel sad “It’s great to be a refugee”, the comparison of the refugees situation with ours make me feel bad “they would like to have the same problems as you have” or questions that make me feel scared to imagine I could be in their situation “stay and risk your lives in the conflict? or flee and risk kidnap, rape, torture or worse?”.

Emotions are what secure mobilization. And this mobilization starts from within.



Shaughnessy and Stadler. 2005. Media and Society: an introduction.

Jasper, James M. 2003. Rethinking social movements : structure, meaning, and emotion.

Ads of the world. Available in:

2015. Channel 4. BBC. Available in:

2016. Expo sin filtros. Available in:

Anonymous. 2016. The misplaced child. Exhibited in: Arcola theatre, London.