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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