Reinventing Kony

When the Kony 2012 thing got worldwide attention I was too busy with other issues to start to write something. Yet I had many discussions with friends and acquaintances who had never shown any interest for Africa before. Who was this wicked man Kony and what did he really want? That was the most common questions. It sadly enough echoed ideas of Africa as the heart of darkness. But what puzzled me most was rather why now? At a point where Kony and his LRA were fewer and less of a threat than ever, why would the video clip from Invisible Children render this kind of attention? For the past few years I have taught African studies and African Anthropology at Uppsala University. One of my students’ favorite guest lecturers has been my former colleague Sverker Finnström. His book Living with bad surroundings (Duke 2008) is one of the best accounts on Northern Uganda and the LRA. For the past few years Sverker has in our class used video clips produced by Invisible Children to show how wrong ill-contextualized visual stuff can lead us. And it really can! I have elsewhere introduced the term Jackass journalism (in Swedish only) for journalists spending more time contextualizing, with any means of exaggeration available, themselves in super-dangerous places than making sense of something, and to my mind Invisible Children plays in the same league – can we call them a Jackass NGO?

Instead of furthering my own analysis on the topic I will give you some links to where Sverker has been writing:

’Kony 2012’ är en språngbräda för USA:s militär

 and translated into English:

“Kony 2012″ Is a Springboard for the US Military

another text:

“KONY 2012” and the Magic of International Relations

Sverker is also a contributor to the site Making sense of Kony

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