Risky Business: Race, Nonequivalence and the Humanitarian Politics of Life

Adia Benton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Analyses of humanitarian imagery generally highlight how images are used to mobilize empathy and collective action. Recent critical ethnographic accounts of humanitarianism have either disregarded or underplayed the role of race in the practice of humanitarianism, focusing on risk as crucial to a “humanitarian politics of life.” In this article I suggest that combining textual and visual analysis deepens the evidentiary base for claims linking race, risk and humanitarianism. I argue that heroism and humanitarianism are often conflated, and that this conflation relies on racialized perceptions of risk, in which blackness is a central mediator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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