Celebrity Authors, Humanitarian Narratives, And The Role Of Literature In World Crises Today: The Medecins Sans Frontiers' Newspaper Chronicles Testigos Del Horror (Witness Of Horror)
- Comparative Literature Studies
- Penn State University Press
- Volume 55, Number 2, 2018
- pp. 345-360
- Additional Information
This article examines a series of chronicles on contemporary world crises commissioned by Médecins sans Frontiers to eight well-known Hispanic writers and a photojournalist published by El País and followed by an exhibition at multiple Instituto Cervantes sites. Seeking to assist vulnerable populations across the globe, the series turned to the authors' prestige as public intellectuals and creativity to appeal to the international community for support. Literature's potential to generate empathy and express solidarity is viewed with some healthy skepticism, arguing that despite their urgent and evident need, a critical view of top-down humanitarian campaigns is necessary. In regards to literature in particular, this article suggests that solidarity projects must address the contradictory elements of humanitarian narratives and their mise en scène of suffering to be effective. Focusing on the chronicle as a genre, this article examines the aura of the author as a public intellectual, the aesthetic mediation of suffering, and the appeal to a metropolitan readership. As a mass media project and exhibition, Witness of Horror also sheds light into the institutional frameworks and practices that mediate literature's efforts to intervene in and remedy world crises today.