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Making the state blush: Humanizing relations in an Australian NGO campaign for people seeking asylum

Making the state blush: Humanizing relations in an Australian NGO campaign for people seeking asylum
Making the state blush: Humanizing relations in an Australian NGO campaign for people seeking asylum
The Australian state’s hostile deterrence policy toward people arriving by boat who seek asylum evokes polarized public sentiments. This article, which ethnographically follows a humanitarian NGO campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 Australian election, examines how citizens who opposed deterrence sought to affectively and morally influence the state and the public. Building on anthropological theories of the
state and feminist scholarship on the sociality of emotion, I develop the notion of ‘affective relations’. Distinguishing from nationalist, humanitarian, and activist relations that set up divisive dynamics, campaigners invoked ‘humanizing’ to create affective relations based on common values, personalization, and responsiveness. Although the desired election results were not achieved, the focus on humanization represented a long-term shift to an inclusive alternative politics based on the transformation of power relations.
Affect, Anthropology of the state, Citizenship, Humanitarianism, Humanization, Relationality, Sociality of emotion
0155-977X
1-23
Altman, Tess
6d289ad3-f65c-496f-b1b2-07ff5a3e6072
Altman, Tess
6d289ad3-f65c-496f-b1b2-07ff5a3e6072

Altman, Tess (2020) Making the state blush: Humanizing relations in an Australian NGO campaign for people seeking asylum. Social Analysis, 64 (1), 1-23. (doi:10.3167/sa.2020.640101).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Australian state’s hostile deterrence policy toward people arriving by boat who seek asylum evokes polarized public sentiments. This article, which ethnographically follows a humanitarian NGO campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 Australian election, examines how citizens who opposed deterrence sought to affectively and morally influence the state and the public. Building on anthropological theories of the
state and feminist scholarship on the sociality of emotion, I develop the notion of ‘affective relations’. Distinguishing from nationalist, humanitarian, and activist relations that set up divisive dynamics, campaigners invoked ‘humanizing’ to create affective relations based on common values, personalization, and responsiveness. Although the desired election results were not achieved, the focus on humanization represented a long-term shift to an inclusive alternative politics based on the transformation of power relations.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 December 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 March 2020
Published date: 1 March 2020
Keywords: Affect, Anthropology of the state, Citizenship, Humanitarianism, Humanization, Relationality, Sociality of emotion

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 439191
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/439191
ISSN: 0155-977X
PURE UUID: 91e77396-fac5-4c57-a9b2-e22631ee4d0c
ORCID for Tess Altman: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5928-603X

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Date deposited: 06 Apr 2020 16:36
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 02:29

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