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Beyond Kony2012

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Beyond Kony2012

Atrocity, Awareness, & Activism in the Internet Age

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About the Book



This book is for those who know a little about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, and want to know more.

Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 has become the most viral video ever. Concerned citizens around the world, from middle school students to celebrities like Oprah and Justin Bieber, watched the film and shared it with their friends. It has now been viewed more than 87 million times.

That success was soon met by a critical backlash. Critics nearly as varied as the campaign’s supporters pointed out that Invisible Children was offering an oversimplified, even misleading narrative. They faulted the campaign for failing to provide a context for the LRA conflict, and pointed out that the video portrayed Africans as either helpless victims, or heartless killers.

This book is both a collection of that criticism, and a constructive response to it. The authors each wrote a short essay offering information that they felt was missing from the video, or explaining how they thought the campaign could be improved.

The first several chapters provide historical and political context. Adam Branch, Daniel Kalinaki, and Ayesha Nibbe explain the roots of the conflict, and how it has persisted for so many years. Alex Little and Patrick Wegner discuss various attempts to end the conflict through peace negotiations, ICC arrest warrants, and military operations, and why they have not been successful.

Later chapters consider the ethics and effectiveness of awareness campaigns like Kony 2012. Glenna Gordon and Jina Moore draw on their experiences as journalists to critique the video’s portrayal of Africa and the people who live there. Rebecca Hamilton, Laura Seay, Kate Cronin-Furman, and Amanda Taub examine the weakness of “awareness” advocacy. Alanna Shaikh explains the ethical dangers of bad aid work. Teddy Ruge offers a different view of Africa, as a place of dynamic innovation instead of violence and helplessness. And youth activist Sam Menefee-Libey describes his frustration with the tone and substance of the campaign meant to target his generation.

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Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Contributors
  3. How Civilians Became Targets: A Short History of the War in Northern Uganda
  4. Adam Branch
  5. Kony2012: Treat the Political Causes of the LRA, Not Just Its Violent Symptoms
  6. Daniel Kalinaki
  7. The Making of a “Humanitarian Emergency”: Night Commuters, Invisible Children, and the Business of Aid and Advocacy
  8. Ayesha Nibbe
  9. Three Strikes and Kony’s Still There: What I Learned from Negotiations with Joseph Kony and the International Criminal Court’s Efforts to Indict Him
  10. Alex Little
  11. Peace from Juba: Peace Talks between the LRA and the Government of Uganda (2006-2008)
  12. Mark Kersten
  13. Can a Military Intervention Stop the Lord’s Resistance Army?
  14. Patrick Wegner
  15. Ethical or Exploitative?: Stories, Advocacy and Suffering
  16. Jina Moore
  17. The Power of Images: Who Gets Made Visible?
  18. Glenna Gordon
  19. Learning From Save Darfur
  20. Rebecca Hamilton
  21. Avoiding “Badvocacy”: How to Do No Harm While Doing Good
  22. Laura Seay
  23. What Have They Got to Lose?
  24. Alanna Shaikh
  25. Moral Agents and Patients: Trayvon Martin and Invisible Children
  26. Hawa Allan
  27. Armchair Critics Respond
  28. Kate Cronin-Furman and Amanda Taub
  29. Africa’s New Status Quo: Connected, Bold and Vocal
  30. TMS Ruge
  31. Beyond Kony2012 – Reasserting the Transformative Power of Youth Activism
  32. Sam Menefee-Libey

About the Editor

About the Contributors

  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Adam Branch

    How Civilians Became Targets: A Short History of the War in Northern Uganda

    Adam Branch is a Senior Research Fellow at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. His research focuses on questions of political violence and intervention in Africa, with a focus on the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine and on the International Criminal Court. He has also worked extensively…

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Alanna Shaikh

    What Have They Got to Lose?

    Alanna Shaikh is a global health specialist who has been working in international development for nearly a decade. A former TED fellow, she is the author of *What's Killing Us: A Practical Guide to Understanding Our Biggest Global Health Problems*. She blogs at Blood and Milk and UN Dispatch.

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Alex Little

    Three Strikes and Kony’s Still There: What I Learned from Negotiations with Joseph Kony and the International Criminal Court’s Efforts to Indict Him

    Alex Little is a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project and currently serves as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Nashville, Tennessee. Previously, he worked as a law clerk and consultant to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and, prior to that, as an analyst at the Central…

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Amanda Taub

    Armchair Critics Respond

    Amanda Taub is a lawyer who teaches international law and human rights at Fordham University. She blogs at www.wrongingrights.com.

    Read more
  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Ayesha Nibbe

    The Making of a “Humanitarian Emergency”: Night Commuters, Invisible Children, and the Business of Aid and Advocacy

    Dr. Nibbe is a professor at Hawaii Pacific University. Her research focuses generally on questions about poverty and hunger and how the “West” engages in a relationship with the “Third World” via development and humanitarianism. She is currently working on a book about the socio-political effects…

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Daniel Kalinaki

    Kony2012: Treat the Political Causes of the LRA, Not Just Its Violent Symptoms

    Daniel Kalinaki is a Ugandan investigative journalist who is noted for his coverage of corruption in the Ugandan government and army. Currently the Managing Editor at the Daily Monitor, Daniel is co-author of Open Secret, a book about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda. His work has appeared in the…

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Glenna Gordon

    The Power of Images: Who Gets Made Visible?

    Glenna Gordon is a freelance documentary photographer who splits her time between West Africa and New York. In addition to her own projects, she also covers news and features, does work for NGOs, and trains journalists and photographers in Africa. Her work has been published in Time, Newsweek, The…

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Jina Moore

    Ethical or Exploitative?: Stories, Advocacy and Suffering

    Jina Moore is an independent multimedia journalist who covers human rights, conflict and aftermath, and Africa. She is a 2009 Ochberg Fellow of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Her collected work and blog are available at www.jinamoore.com.

    Read more
  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Kate Cronin-Furman

    Armchair Critics Respond

    Kate Cronin-Furman is a human rights lawyer who is pursuing a PhD in Political Science at Columbia University. She blogs at www.wrongingrights.com.

    Read more
  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Laura Seay

    Avoiding “Badvocacy”: How to Do No Harm While Doing Good

    Laura Seay is an assistant professor of political science at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches courses on African politics, conflict, and international affairs. her primary research interest is in the ways that communities respond to state weakness in sub-Saharan Africa. She…

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  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Patrick Wegner

    Can a military intervention stop the Lord’s Resistance Army?

    Patrick Wegner is a PhD student at the University of Tübingen and the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. He is working on the impact of International Criminal Court investigations on ongoing intrastate conflicts. He blogs at Justice in Conflict.

    Read more
  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Rebecca Hamilton

    Learning From Save Darfur

    Rebecca Hamilton is the author of Fighting for Darfur, a multi-year investigation into the impact of the Save Darfur campaign. A Pulitzer Center grantee, she was formerly the special correspondent in Sudan for the Washington Post. As a lawyer she spent two years working at the International…

    Read more
  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Sam Menefee-Libey

    Beyond Kony 2012 – Reasserting the Transformative Power of Youth Activism

    Sam Menefee-Libey is a youth organizer who focuses on supporting campus activists. He has experience working on a broad spectrum of economic and social justice issues, including anti-oppression, education and environmental justice.

    Read more
  • D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e?r=pg&d=mm

    Teddy Ruge

    Africa’s New Status Quo: Connected, Bold and Vocal

    TMS “Teddy” Ruge cofounded Project Diaspora, an online platform for mobilizing, engaging and motivating members of Africa Diaspora to engage in matters important to the continent’s development. A technology enthusiast, Ruge writes and speaks extensively on Africa’s current renaissance driven by…

    Read more

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