Annotated Bibliography #2: “Girl Power and ‘Selfie Humanitarianism'”

Koffman, Ofra, Shani Orgad, and Rosalind Gill. “Girl Power and ‘Selfie             Humanitarianism'” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 29.2             (2015): 157-68. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

In this relatively short, accessible academic article, Dr. Ofra Koffman, Prof. Shani Orgad, and Prof. Rosalind Gill examine what they perceive to be the “turn to the girl” and the invocation of “girl power” in recent global humanitarian and development campaigns. According to the authors, who share backgrounds in both social sciences and media studies, this trend in is related to neo-liberalism, depoliticization, and the increasingly close connection between humanitarian efforts and corporate interests. Focusing on the Malala, Chime for Change, and Girl Effect campaigns, the authors take a sociological approach to suggest that humanitarian organisations construct girls as both ideal victims and ideal agents of change. The article further posits that these efforts, which they dub “selfie humanitarianism,” connect projects of helping others to entrepreneurial projects of the self. “Selfie humanitarianism,” they continue, is less concerned with a redistribution of justice and more interested in the commodification of “girl power” and a “makeover of subjectivity” for both the enactors and the receivers of humanitarian efforts. Shifting to an examination of Girl Up, the paper argues that these campaigns obscure the forces of global capitalism that force girls of the global south into poverty by implying that these girls have the agency to lift themselves out of poverty. In straightforward, unadorned prose, the authors make a convincing case for their central thesis that global humanitarian and development rhetoric constitutes “a distinctive, neo-colonial, neoliberal and postfeminist articulation” of the figure of the girl.

Lily Hassall

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