Invisible Children Video

7 03 2012

Unless you have been under a rock for the last 24 hours, you have probably seen the “Invisible Children” video that has been circulating on social media sites. Certainly most of my students have seen it.  The video is designed to raise awareness of the atrocities carried out by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

Today, I overheard some people on the train discussing the video and debating whether Uganda was a fictional country or a real place. Their conversation quickly moved on to the topic of horror films. It must be conceded that this video has succeeded in getting people who do not normally think about the issue of humanitarian intervention to give some though to Joseph Kony’s terrible crimes. I suppose, therefore, that in some ways this video is a good thing.

Dr Stephanie Carvin, an IR scholar who works on security issues, has posted some thoughtful comments about this well-intentioned video on her blog.  Stephanie writes:

the situation on the ground in Uganda is complex. Military humanitarian intervention has serious consequences. Ham-fistedly intervening in a conflict of which few have a nuanced understanding of the conditions on the ground, where local actors are already engaged in trying to bring about a peaceful resolution, is not going to help and may in fact serve to make a difficult situation worse. Buying a bracelet from an American run NGO will not change this.

As someone who teaches about Empire, “the white man’s burden”, and the long history of well-intentioned efforts by Westerners to improve conditions in the developing world, I am glad that people are thinking critically about this video.

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