The Changing Nature of Humanitarian Emotions
This chapter investigates the emergence, evolution, and performance of the concept of “compassion fatigue” in the humanitarian context. It tracks the uses made by humanitarians of bodily responses to their work or representations of their work from a discourse on a danger of humanitarian excess to its redefinition as the embodiment of caregivers’ dilemmas and, finally, as a metaphor for understanding the potential for public disengagement with fundraising campaigns. This chapter seeks to determine how compassion fatigue has been embodied, represented, addressed, and politically used in humanitarian contexts. Its focus points are the social and political organizations that have framed the emotions of humanitarian actors and spectators as “compassion fatigue” as well as the effects that this categorization has had in both the understanding of the humanitarian work and of its political agenda.
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