Miriam Ticktin is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College. She is the author of Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France (California, 2011) and co-editor (with Ilana Feldman) of In the Name of Humanity: the Government of Threat and Care (Duke, 2010). She is a founding editor of the journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development.

Rewriting the Grammars of Innocence: Abounaddara and The Right to the Image

Miriam Ticktin

Volume 4Article 11

Rewriting the Grammars of Innocence: Abounaddara and The Right to the Image

Miriam Ticktin

Volume 4Article 11 Download

Rewriting the Grammars of Innocence: Abounaddara and The Right to the Image

Miriam Ticktin
Volume 4/Article 11 Download
Miriam Ticktin is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College. She is the author of Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France (California, 2011) and co-editor (with Ilana Feldman) of In the Name of Humanity: the Government of Threat and Care (Duke, 2010). She is a founding editor of the journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development.

We affirm emphatically that the images of Syrians are even more lacking in dignity because the conditions of production benefit the producer at the expense of the author.

– Abounaddara

Contemporary media is replete with imagery of invasive others. These others take different forms, but perhaps the most recognizable are humans, particularly those crossing borders, like migrants and refugees. We regularly see images of people coming by the boatload from Syria or North Africa to land on European shores. Frontex, Europe’s border patrol agency, understands these migrants as posing an imminent danger, and uses cutting-edge technology to surveil and detect them. If not left to drown, migrants are turned around at sea or deported when they reach land. Considered invasive, they are kept in detention centers or in camps on various shores of the Mediterranean. In the context of US immigration, Donald Trump explicitly called one migrant caravan—which started traveling north from Honduras in October 2018—an invasion, and mobilized over five thousand active troops at the US–Mexico border to keep it out.

But in the public imaginary in much of the Global North, fear is rarely present without its conjoined opposite: pity. Migrants are rendered visible as invasion or threat, but they are also shown as suffering victims. If fear is evoked by the imagery of threat, shame is the effect of representing those who suffer. This latter approach is exemplified by the now iconic image of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up onto a Turkish beach in September 2015. The language of humanitarianism, while often well-intentioned, also traffics in the discourse of victimhood or abjection, and uses images of children like Kurdi to this end. The focus on children is a tried and true strategy of humanitarian organizations, which regularly display them on their homepages and in fundraising materials to elicit support for those considered most vulnerable. We need only think of the classic 1993 photograph of an emaciated Sudanese child, too weak to stand up, being preyed upon by a vulture. Taken by Kevin Carter, the photo quickly came to signify the South Sudanese famine, and served as an early example of the humanitarian call to action, driven by pity and shame. Anthropologist Liisa Malkki has perhaps best described the aesthetics and politics of humanitarian imagery in her suggestion that in such images, refugees “stop being specific persons and become pure victims in general.” They (especially African refugees) are figured as “a ‘sea’ or ‘blur of humanity’”—as “a spectacle of a ‘raw,’ ‘bare humanity.’”{1} Such photographs erase all historical context, focusing on refugees’ faces or bodies, which in turn draws attention to their expressions of pain or suffering. Those represented become subjects in urgent need, quintessential victims. In this sense, refugees are understood as passive and voiceless. Reduced to an undistinguished mass of bodies rather than individuals, refugees, Malkki argues, are mobilized to represent a humanity stripped of dignity. Indeed, in her short but prescient essay, “We Refugees,” Hannah Arendt described a shift in the meaning of refugee after WWII: “Now, refugees are those of us who have been so unfortunate as to arrive in a new country without means and have to be helped by Refugee Committees.”{2} In other words, no one wants to be classified as a refugee, as it evokes misfortune, pity, and helplessness; not heroism.

Figure 1. Google image search results for “migrant caravan,” January, 2020.

As the ascension of Trump and many other global strongman leaders has put into relief, both the aesthetic and affective dimensions of politics are exceedingly important; people are responding to fear. We can no longer pretend that the political is or ever was primarily about reason, debate, or logic. Indeed, insofar as we are in a moment where the real is contested, and the idea of truth no longer has legs, we have no choice but to think of politics and aesthetics together. To do politics means to intervene and shape media representations—to do politics is to help create new imaginaries.

In today’s mediated landscape, then, can we get beyond the dichotomy of threat or victim, beyond responses based either on security or humanitarianism? Indeed, these are often two sides of the same coin.{3} French anthropologist Michel Agier has said it most directly: humanitarianism “strikes with one hand, heals with the other,” it’s the “left-hand of Empire,” or the softer side of the liberal civilizing mission, one that regularly accompanies the more violent forms of intervention or abandonment. Perhaps most importantly, he suggests that this “secret solidarity” between humanitarianism and the police contributes to the end of politics, insofar as it gradually institutes one world order.{4}

In the interest of forging both a new political imagination and new political subjects, then, we might consider aesthetic projects that try to counter or undo humanitarianism’s affective structure and its associated subjects—not just to refigure them, but to reclaim the terrain of the political. Abounaddara, an anonymous Syrian film collective, which has been posting a film online every Friday about daily life in Syria since the start of the revolution, offers one of the most powerful examples I have found. The collective wants to undo a Western desire to witness victimhood, and to feel pity. In other words, it directly opposes the discourses and imagery of humanitarianism, and the subjects they call forth. To make sense of Abounaddara’s work, I draw in particular on the work of philosopher Jacques Rancière, who suggests that the goal of the political is to shift the grammar of the sensible, and what is rendered visible and invisible. I argue that only in this way will we be able to forge new forms of collective enunciation.{5} Rancière in turn builds on Hannah Arendt, reworking her notion of the political even as he retains her suspicion of the category of humanity, as we will see.


To do politics means to intervene and shape media representations—to do politics is to help create new imaginaries.


Abounaddara is engaged in changing images of Syrians and of the ongoing war, overthrowing the frameworks that represent Syrians as only victims or terrorists. Abounaddara’s strategy first calls for “the right to a dignified image.” As the collective’s one named representative, Charif Kiwan, states, the Abounaddara films “deal with the indignity of war without representing indignity.” He points to the fact that we rarely, if ever, see bloodied or dead Americans or Europeans in the media, despite their perpetual military engagements and occupations. The US military tightly controls images of dead American soldiers, but the mainstream media follows suit. Media elsewhere in the Global North is not so different; for instance, French television stations refused to show images of the victims of the Paris terror attacks in 2015. Why then, Kiwan asks, are images of Syrian corpses all over the media? Why the graphic images of violence and tragedy? He states, “once you watch those photos all the time, then you are not surprised . . . you consider those people not very important, because they are dying all the time. So you finish by telling yourself, these people are not like me, not human like me.”{6} The traditional epistemology of photography assumes that a photograph represents an event that precedes it in an independent or neutral way, but since the 1990s, this sequence has been scrambled. Sometimes the possibility of representation precedes and in fact makes the event.{7} As Abounaddara suggests, the media not only represents, but produces a different battlefront; war needs to be waged in these corollary terms as well.

Abounaddara’s second strategy is rooted in its larger political goal: a humanity that is represented by freedom and dignity, not by the image of a pitiful victim. In some sense, they challenge Arendt’s classic critique of this category, as she cautioned against drawing on humanity as a political constituency (for instance, by way of human rights). Indeed, she said that the abstract nakedness of being human and nothing but human was the ultimate danger.{8} Unlike many who follow Arendt and challenge the grammar of humanitarianism by finding fault with the category of humanity itself, Abounaddara’s political ethos is still driven by the language of a shared or common humanity; it calls what’s going on in Syria “a crime against humanity.” It calls, too, for equal standards for Syrians, Americans, and everyone else.

Abounaddara’s films are short—just a few minutes each—and often quite intimate. They are nevertheless set in the context of war. Abounaddara does not try to forget or erase what they call the “nightmare” of war, but to show people living their lives within it, beside it, or despite it. One film, The Lady of Syria (2015), opens with a woman looking into the distance from a hilltop, stating, “see . . . it fell over there . . . in the next village . . . not on houses.” We cannot see what she’s looking at, but we can imagine it’s the aftermath of an explosion or drone strike. But then she walks along, descending into the basement of a building, where, through the dim light, we gradually see that women are engaged in a beauty lesson, learning how to style a bride’s hair. There is no electricity, but the teacher says, in a playfully ironic tone, “War or no war, we are following fashion!” Such scenes challenge Western perceptions of Muslim women as long-suffering victims who require saving—perceptions that scholars like Lila Abu-Lughod have long critiqued.{9} Some watch attentively, others chat; the teacher reminds them that tomorrow they have a nursing lesson.

THE LADY OF SYRIA – PART ONE, Abounaddara (2015).

In another film, called Vanguards (2011), we see little children lined up, in uniform, shouting war slogans and other propaganda, repeating after a voice that guides them. They shout, “Revolution!” and “Bearers of immortal messages!” and “Always ready!” and “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” and raise their arms in salute.

These films depart from and challenge key humanitarian tropes. First, these are not strictly innocent children. Unlike Alan Kurdi, whose innocence is represented by his inert, vulnerable, and passive body—a small body overcome by the larger, dangerous forces in the world—these children are politically active and engaged. Similarly, they have no likeness to the image that went viral in August 2016: the video of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, dazed, covered in blood and dust, sitting in an ambulance in the aftermath of an airstrike in Aleppo. Again, in the photograph, Daqneesh appears confused, unknowing, alone, and vulnerable, while the children in Vanguards are portrayed as part of a larger political and historical context in which they participate. While many say that photographs such as those of Kurdi and Daqneesh are what finally shamed Europe into action (to help immigrants, to stop supporting the war in Syria), images of innocence and the moral imperative they engender—have a long history of actually hurting those they intend to help, because they produce the very idea of worthiness. In the process, they work to separate deserving from undeserving, often penalizing or criminalizing those who are perceived to be in the latter category. In this sense, to shift images is indeed—as the collective of Abounaddara argues—a matter of life and death; images can produce physical harm.

FIREWOOD, Abounaddara (date unknown).

Abounaddara’s films work to change the sensory landscapes of humanitarianism. This involves illustrating the harm of victimhood, which is in turn inextricably tied to the concept of innocence. While the phrase innocent victims occurs so often that it can be difficult to think these two terms apart, innocents need not be victims, and victims need not be innocent.

Since April 2015, innocence has been used to create a distinction in both American and European public discourse between refugees and illegal economic migrants. This was the start of the so-called refugee crisis in Europe, when the numbers of people both crossing into Europe and dying in the process increased exponentially.{10} Although asylum may be a legal category worthy of protection, here it is primarily a moral, not a legal distinction that purports to separate the deserving from the undeserving. Real refugees are seen as innocent—fleeing well-founded fears of persecution. They are understood as passive, vulnerable, and in need of saving.

Economic migrants, in contrast, are portrayed as wily, deceiving their way into Europe’s welfare and other beneficiary systems and undermining not only European security but European values. In the United States, we see this distinction deployed in the case of the Dreamers (undocumented youth) and their parents. Dreamers are innocent; they came unknowingly, as children. Their parents are the ones who acted illegally, and should be deported. The recent furor over migrant children separated from their parents at the US–Mexico border is also about the distinction between deserving and undeserving, innocent and guilty: Americans were angry at the treatment of the children, but fewer have suggested that their parents do not deserve to be held in detention centers.

So although the focus on helping innocent refugees may appear generous and humane, in practice, it functions to limit the numbers of people admitted: as just one example, Spain granted asylum to a total of fifteen people in 2014.{11} And while the numbers went up in 2017, only nineteen Syrians were granted asylum there, at a rate of 0.5% of those who requested the status. As Hannah Arendt acknowledged in 1951, asylum as a category was only meant for exceptional cases, never for the masses.{12}

To be sure, days after the image of Alan Kurdi appeared in media outlets, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom increased the numbers of refugees they were willing to accept.{13} But those claiming asylum must still go through rigorous application procedures and be judged worthy. The Canadian government had already denied legal status to Kurdi and his family; it is not clear that he would have been saved by the policies proposed in response to his death. In fact, after these measures were declared, the constraints on asylum applications were made more and more apparent: Germany said it would process asylum applications more quickly, not in order to help, but to deport those who do not qualify in record speed.{14}


As Hannah Arendt acknowledged in 1951, asylum as a category was only meant for exceptional cases, never for the masses.


Innocence is about purity, vulnerability, and naivety; it carries the desire to protect and take responsibility for those who—in their lack of knowledge—cannot take care of themselves. Innocence establishes a hierarchical relationship between those who care and those who are cared for. Ultimately, innocence works as part of a series of binaries—in this case, the flipside is guilt.{15} This frame was most clearly revealed after the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, which altogether resulted in the deaths of 130 people. Despite the attackers being French citizens, France immediately closed its borders, establishing a state of emergency that suspended the rules of the Schengen Agreement, effectively rendering refugees responsible for the attacks. The United States and much of the rest of Europe followed suit. Refugees in general shifted from contingently innocent to guilty in the blink of an eye. Mass media played an important role in this shift, unabashedly broadcasting imagery of hordes and invasions and figuring migrants as rats or insects. The attacks set off enormous backlash in the United States and Europe, where extreme right, anti-immigrant parties had already gained large followings—in Germany, such parties as Alternative for Germany and Generation Identity reacted strongly to Angela Merkel’s more generous migrant and refugee policies.

Innocence is not just important conceptually; it functions on a visual level. Why did Alan Kurdi capture the world’s attention? As Charles Homans argued in the New York Times, his appearance—including his shoes, shorts, and red shirt—made him look like a Euro-American middle-class child.{16} He looked like one of us. In addition to making Westerners think of their own children, this class position helped render him innocent; historically, childhood innocence has been represented by cleanliness and lack of want, which in turn is associated with a certain middle-class whiteness.{17} This is what is seen as neutral, pure. But as with photographs of war, innocence is not simply represented after the fact; rather, images have served to produce the very contours of what we understand innocence to be.

Innocence is marked by singularity—that is, by representing individuals outside of any context, outside time itself. Innocent children, after all, are figures that are understood to precede knowledge: they are promises of both the future and the past. But this is accomplished through the framing of the image. Omran Daqneesh is alone, looking straight ahead; Alan Kurdi is shown on the beach with a soldier looking down on him (and even then, the soldier is often cut out of the frame). And images of childhood innocence are rendered more powerful by the ways in which distinctions between children and adults are foregrounded: for instance, an emphasis on children’s roundness, their pudgy quality—we see this in Daqneesh’s face. But this focus on roundness is an effect of aesthetic histories that helped to produce the very notion of romantic childhood as a distinct ontology or way of being, distinct from adulthood.{18} Similarly, Sianne Ngai describes the aesthetics of cuteness, suggesting it accentuates helplessness and vulnerability.{19} Innocence shares many formal signifiers with cuteness, organized around small, helpless, abject, or deformed objects: for instance, large eyes that evoke distress. These induce both the desire for mastery as well as the desire to help and to cuddle. As ethologists have long noted, cuteness is associated with juvenile features in animals as well as humans, and is accompanied by a desire to protect.{20} Innocence, like cuteness, is a minor aesthetic concept (unlike the more prominent ones like beauty, sublimity, and ugliness), and its very diminutiveness is critical to its appeal. Indeed, innocence, like cuteness, seems to name an aesthetic encounter based on an exaggerated difference in power; it works in relation to a socially disempowered Other. Finally, innocence is perhaps most vividly figured in death, the state of absolute nothingness—no thoughts, no desires, no longings. This is how we recognize innocence, after all: it is visualized as a specific kind of lack. As Anne Higonnet states, images of romantic childhood are always haunted by death.{21} The photograph of Alan Kurdi on the beach did not simply represent migrant innocence; it produced such innocence.

THE WALK TO SCHOOL, Abounaddara (2016).

Using innocence as a key ethico-moral lens shifts all those who do not qualify as innocent into the category of guilty. Abounaddara’s visual work breaks this binary, filling out the frame that currently restricts our possibilities to either identification with the victim or bracketing the subject as a distant and barbaric Other. To return to the film Vanguards, the children actively participate in learning propaganda. Surely the children lack full contextual understanding, but they are nevertheless engaged in all the complexities of childhood, figuring out who they are, when to lead, whom to follow, when to obey, how to resist, when to speak back, and when to run away. Some shout, some look gleeful, others look bored. None of them is passive or pure.

In this sense, Abounaddara’s films both visually and conceptually create room for subjects who are neither victims nor heroes. We might say that the films enact their own grounding principle of anonymity: they render visible the lives of the anonymous, or what Rancière calls “the part who have no part”—those who, as the least likely to be seen as political actors, exemplify the political. These people are as ordinary as can be, and they are everywhere; yet we rarely see them, not only due to a lack of visual representation, but because we are unable to recognize them. Abounaddara works to rupture our frameworks, to render everyday people as notable and significant.

Abounaddara’s films are beautiful and often poetic; they offer an intimate glimpse into people’s lives, and they implicate their audience for a moment. They manage to capture the global scale of war in these intimate frames without showing explicit violence. As such, they challenge the visual and affective vocabularies of humanitarianism, and its attempts to generate care and concern by way of images of horror and affective responses such as pity or compassion. They refuse all of these, including the dominant subject positions available to immigrants and refugees. And this is critical: after all, what does it mean for an immigrant or refugee to be welcomed as a victim, passive, unable to take care of oneself? In the face of such images, why would migrants be hired once they are up and on their feet again? If seen as pitiful victims, how can they possibly be trusted as smart, capable, responsible?

As Charif Kiwan stated as he hesitantly accepted an award for Abounaddara from the Vera List Center for Art and Politics in October 2015, the collective hopes that people in the United States will join their struggle. By this, he did not mean the current war—he asked for people to stay out of that—but instead the struggle against the “banality of evil” created by the humanitarian apparatus within mainstream global media, which undermines what Abounaddara holds most dear: dignity.

The two strategies that ground Abounaddara’s work—the right to dignity and the category of humanity—are inseparable from the discourse of human rights. Indeed, Abounaddara appeals to this universalist language, insofar as it says the dominant regimes of representation are grounded on universalist principles even as dominant regimes of representation are frequently used to discriminate and segregate.{22} Abounaddara suggests that Syrians themselves speak in the language of higher principles, embedded in the Declaration of Human Rights; namely, the collective focuses on the principle of dignity.

This grounding in human rights is at once promising and perplexing; Abounaddara’s work undermines the idea and practice of humanitarianism, which itself is grounded on universalist principles such as humanity, and linked, but not identical, to human rights. Abounaddara reveals the lie of such humanity-inspired practices, which, more often than not, create difference-based hierarchies. Indeed, in Arendt’s famous words, “only with a completely organized humanity could the loss of home and political status become identical with expulsion from humanity altogether.”{23} But does continuing to work within a frame of human rights constrain Abounaddara’s work? Although human rights may not have started out this way—new histories show that the language of human rights was used very powerfully by those struggling against colonial regimes{24}—today, the discourse of human rights has become a key tool of the neoliberal order.{25} In this sense, human rights claims risk being activated in a way that predictably serves to reinforce the extant social order. Rights claims often work in an additive fashion: they do not transform the system; they simply add another identity category to the fold (women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, religious rights, and so on). Only certain kinds of injustices fit into its framework.

Figure 2. The front-page layout of THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 23, 2018.

Class, for instance, does not always or easily fit. Where, then, do we locate the right to the image? We might evaluate how transformative Abounaddara’s work is by asking how much energy it puts into the struggle for legal rights, whether it sees the legal front as primary, or whether its work can bring this right into being by producing dissensus. Might we say, in Rancière’s purposefully tautological terms, that Abounaddara claims rights that they don’t have? Does it claim power despite not having the qualifications to do so, or does it get lost in the paradox of rights, which only become meaningful when claimed by those outside the realm of the intelligible? Differently stated, how much does Abounaddara believe in an already constituted political sphere—one in which it wants to participate, one in which it asks for entry in the sense of a liberal politics of inclusion—and how much is it rewriting the very terms of the political, such that it may later contain a right to dignity? Is the collective opening a space of political subjectivation in which rights will come to mean something quite different—taking us out of a liberal, capitalist order? I would like to think that Abounaddara is using media technology as the terrain for the negotiation of moral and political questions; indeed, that it sees politics happening at the level of technological design more than at the level of international law. By producing and circulating its own images, with or without rights, Abounaddara helps obviate the need for the right to the image.

THE TASTE OF DIGNITY, Abounaddara (2016).

We might also ask why Abounaddara draws on the category of humanity as its political constituency. To be sure, humanity is a powerful way to name a broad, sweeping collective; but it always requires a constitutive outside, even as that outside shifts.{26} Is it effective to work for equality in the name of humanity when humanity is itself always exclusionary? Abounaddara insists on holding onto the category, perhaps because it understands the political stakes of letting it go completely. Feminist scholar Donna Haraway offers one interpretation of this strategy, arguing against the term post-humanism by suggesting that we cannot simply pretend the human no longer exists; such feminist work contends that we cannot will the concept away, even if we want to expand the frame beyond the human, as it carries too much political and affective weight. The question, to me, is: how does Abounaddara’s concept of humanity hold together? Is dignity an affective grammar that is politically open, flexible, inclusionary, and compelling enough? The collective itself recognizes that dignity is a normative concept.{27} What kind of subjects does it enable, recognize, or call into being? Can we always recognize what dignity looks like? How does this dignified humanity remain open to new, undignified constituencies?

The risk, of course, is that in the name of the law and the category of humanity, Abounaddara gets caught in a system that reproduces these same types of hierarchy and violence. Rancière describes how human rights can slip into humanitarian rights, or the rights of absolute victims, in the name of whom others are authorized to act; when one sticks to the consensual script, and tries to work with the law rather than rewriting its very meaning, one is not actually enacting political rights.{28} Rather, these rights are carefully guarded by those in power, who use them to justify intervention in the name of suffering others. This has been called the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), but it started out, in the words of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) founder Bernard Kouchner, as the humanitarian right to intervene. This is precisely what Abounaddara fights against; and yet its strategies walk a fine line, risking the reproduction of this same order. Abounaddara works at this tense and tender threshold of political transformation; my hope is that its beautiful and compelling work pushes fully into the terrain of political otherness.


An earlier version of this essay was commissioned by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School to critically examine the work of Abounaddara, recipient of the 2014-2016 Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics.



Title Video: Field of Battle (Abounaddara, Syria, 2017)

{1} Liisa Malkki, “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization,” Cultural Anthropology 11, vol. 3 (1996): 377–404.
{2} Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees” in Altogether Elsewhere: Writers on Exile, ed. Marc Robinson (Washington, D.C.: Harvest Books 1996), 110.
{3} Didier Fassin, “Compassion and Repression: The Moral Economy of Immigration Policies in France,” Cultural Anthropology 20, vol. 3 (2005): 362–87. See also Miriam Ticktin, “Policing and Humanitarianism in France: Immigration and the Turn to Law as State of Exception,” Interventions: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies 7, vol. 3 (2005): 347–68; and Michel Agier, “Humanity as an Identity and Its Political Effects (A Note on Camps and Humanitarian Government),” Humanity 1, vol. 1 (2010): 29–45.
{4} Agier, “Humanity as an Identity.”
{5} Jacques Rancière, Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (London: Continuum International, 2010).
{6} Melena Ryzik, “Syrian Film Collective Offers View of Life Behind a Conflict,” New York Times, October 18, 2015.
{7} See Thomas Keenan’s contribution to the “The Anxiety of Images” feature in Aperture 204 (2011): 56-57.
{8} Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Meridian Books, 1951).
{9} Lila Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).
{10} To be sure, migrants and refugees have been crossing the Mediterranean for years, moving from Africa to Europe, but a number of events created the idea of a crisis. These included the escalation of conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq; and a shift in route from Libya and Italy, to Turkey and Greece, and over new Balkan routes. These events were accompanied by an increased emphasis on security and policing rather than rescue.
{11}Final decisions on (non-EU) asylum applications, 2014,” Eurostat: statistics explained, May 21, 2015.
{12} Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 294.
{13} Helena Smith and Mark Tran, “Germany says it could take 500,000 refugees a year,” The Guardian, September 8, 2015.
{14} Natasha Lennard and Lukas Hermsmeier, “Merkel’s Refugee Policy Is Political Calculus, Not Humanitarian Generosity,” The Nation, November 19, 2015.
{15} In its different incarnations, innocence can also be the opposite of knowledge, intention, and desire.
{16} Charles Homans, “The Boy on the Beach,” New York Times, September 3, 2015.
{17} Anne Higonnet, Pictures of Innocence: The History and Crisis of Ideal Childhood (London: Thames & Hudson, 1998).
{18} Ibid.
{19} Sianne Ngai, “The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde,” Critical Inquiry 31, vol. 4 (2005): 811–47.
{20} Konrad Lorenz, Studies in Animal and Human Behavior (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).
{21} Higonnet, Pictures of Innocence, 30.
{22} Jason Fox, “Representational Regimes: A Conversation with the Abounaddara Film Collective,” World Records 1, vol. 1 (2018).
{23} Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 294.
{24} Joseph Slaughter, “Hijacking Human Rights: Neoliberalism, the New Historiography, and the End of the Third World,” Human Rights Quarterly 40, vol. 4 (2018): 735–75.
{25} Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).
{26} Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1963). See also Ilana Feldman and Miriam Ticktin, eds., In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).
{27} Abounaddara, “Dignity has never been photographed,” documenta 14 Notes & Works, March 24, 2017.
{28} Jacques Rancière, “Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?,” South Atlantic Quarterly 103, vols. 2–3 (2004): 297–310.