Digital interfaces with distant suffering : Exploring the vibrant digital materiality of visual global politics
Summary, in English
While the question of how images matters in world politics is a pertinent issue in contemporary International Relations (IR) theory, little attention has been paid to the digital interfaces on and through which images are disseminated. This article engages with recent literature on ‘new materialism,’ ‘postphenomenology’ and ‘interface theory’ as one way to bring to the fore the technological materiality of digital interfaces that have thus far been treated as the hinterlands of visual global politics. The article begins with a review of recent literature on images and world politics that showcases the analytical shortcomings caused by the lack of attention paid to technology and materiality and makes obvious the need for a conceptual and methodological vocabulary with which to take stock of the crucial role of digital interfaces in visual global politics. Next, I theorise the role of interfaces in global affairs and propose an analytical strategy that enables IR scholars to examine how interfaces shape visual global politics in concrete albeit ambiguous ways. Finally, applying this framework, I provide an illustrative analysis of a specific digital interface - the app “ShareTheMeal” by the World Food Programme - and discuss how this particular interface shapes the visual mediation of and public responses to humanitarian disasters.