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Kamari Clarke - keynote lecture on "hashtag activism"

Friday, October 27, 2017 at 4:30pm

A. D. White House, Guerlac Room
29 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Society for the Humanities Annual Conference on CORRUPTION
Friday, October 27 - Saturday, October 28, 2017


Kamari Clarke, Professor of Global & International Studies, Law & Legal Studies, and Anthropology, Carleton University

Corruptions of Justice or Celebrity Neo-Justice? The #BringBackOurGirlsCampaign and the Affective turn to Hashtag Activism

Friday, October 27, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

free and open / reception to follow


In spring 2014, the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag was mobilized and quickly popularized by politicians, concerned citizens and celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg and the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. The articulated goal was the return of the more than three hundred Nigerian girls abducted from a school in Chinok, Nigeria, by Islamic militants in the Nigerian state of Borno. The support of a global network interested in protecting those victimized by the abductions led to a transnational mass mobilization in which millions of dollars were committed by governments and citizens in a short period of time to launch campaigns that would led to the demand and return of innocent girls to their families.  However, millions of dollars were said to be missing from funds from the US government to find the missing girls. And in November 2016, further negotiations for the use of the $321 million dollars in funds confiscated by the Switzerland government from Nigeria’s former military dictator, President Sani Abacha, were deployed to further negotiations by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In an attempt to clarify shifting articulations of justice in the contemporary period, from solutions to structural inequality to celebrity popularism, this talk examines how participants of the US-driven international #BringBackOurGirls hashtag campaign built a social movement that led to demands to protect African girls within an exceedingly complex context. It explores how this campaign erased the plight of Nigeria’s militant Muslim communities and replaced it with the idea of both a “barbaric” perpetrator and a “victim” fetish. The talk will show how in these contemporary justice mobilizations, the figure of the “victim” is not represented through abject suffering.  Instead, this figure is represented and dignified with emotionally infused declarations of rights and entitlements that erase abject suffering and foreground the pursuit of an otherwise unachievable “universal and cosmopolitan justice.”  Seen as a form of neo-justice, the talk clarifies the work of a new politics of bio-mediated display at play that is being communicated globally through celebrity-driven advocacy campaigns that have implications for the building of new publics in global arenas.

Kamari Clarke is a professor of Global and International Studies at Carleton University with a cross appointment in Law and Legal Studies/and Anthropology.  With a BA in Political Science-International Relations from Concordia University, a Master in the Study of Law from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa-Cruz, her research is both multi-disciplinary and engaged in global and transnational formations.  Professor Clarke’s research spans issues related to the understanding of various legal domains in international criminal tribunals, legal pluralism and the export and spread of international norms through human rights training sessions, United Nations treaty negotiations and Africa’s insertion into international law circuits.  She explores issues dealing with the secular and the religious in transnational meaning making, as well as the increasing judicialization of international justice and its implications for rethinking the political in the contemporary period. 

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Conference/Workshop, Lecture


Society for the Humanities


cascal, sochum

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Sarah Hennies

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Kamari Clarke

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Carleton University

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