#BringBackOurGirls : solidarity or self-interest? online feminist movements & third world women.
Thesis DisciplineMedia and Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Due to global interconnectedness and the rise of social media, humanitarian communication is said to have shifted from its groundings in the Politics of Pity towards Ironic Solidarity. Ironic Solidarity maintains participants act not to alleviate distant others’ suffering, but to perform their own identities; thus, perpetuating the very problems they aim to eliminate. This thesis seeks to examine this claim in the context of Online Feminist Movements, using the #BringBackOurGirls movement as a case study. This hashtag rose to global prominence following the mass abduction of female students in Chibok, Nigeria, by the militant group, Boko Haram. This movement is examined indepth to determine what led to its global prominence. Also examined is the impact of social media and mainstream media on the movement; the influence of its feminist ideals; and whether participants’ actions were solidary or in self-interest. To address these aims, a selection of relevant Twitter tweets and mainstream media newspaper articles from four distinct periods were analysed through Critical Discourse Analysis. The results of this study found overarching discourses of the #BringBackOurGirls movement that suggest it primarily relied upon power dynamic discourses, which served to enforce the hegemonic relationship between the west and global south. Additionally, such power dynamic discourses within a third world feminist movement demonstrated that western first world feminism had usurped the movement, thereby further disenfranchising third world women. The power dynamic discourses showed the presence of the Politics of Pity within this humanitarian movement, showcasing that this remains a firm feature of humanitarian communication. However, Ironic Solidarity was additionally present, indicating that the two humanitarian communication approaches can exist concurrently. The presence of Ironic Solidarity also indicated that participants acted primarily in selfinterest in their engagement with the #BringBackOurGirls movement.