Today’s Western humanitarian documentaries aim to engage higher public awareness and evoke sentiments of international solidarity. They are classified under the genre of ‘social impact’ documentaries. This paper hypothesises that this terminology conceals the exploitative cinematic processes of representing the ‘Other’ and argues that these films are ‘post-humanitarian.’ Combining Stuart Hall’s representation theory with a Marxist film perspective, this research challenges the dominant depictions of the ‘Other’ produced by First World entertainment institutions (i.e., Hollywood) and how these representations undermine the idea of ‘international solidarity.’ Three accoladed Western-made documentaries – ‘Raving Iran’ (2016), ‘The White Helmets’ (2016), and ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’ (2015) – are examined in accordance with the ideological conjunctions of anti-imperialism, subaltern identities, and Western humanitarianism. The discussion concludes upon the representational power rendered to White filmmakers and the humanitarian paradox of the ‘foreigner’ depicting the ‘foreign.’

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Willem Schinkel, Samira van Bohemen
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Ye, A. (2020, June 20). Representations of the 'Other' in Humanitarian Documentaries: The Commodification of International Solidarity and Anti-Imperialist Paradoxes. Sociology. Retrieved from