Screening the refugee: Freedom Stories and the performance of empathy in an 'emotional community'
Link to publisher version (URL)
In this chapter, I use the public question-and-answer (Q&A) session after a screening of the Australian documentary, Freedom Stories, to unpack the performance of empathy in the context of advocacy for asylum seekers. The affective as well as performative aspects of this empathy demonstrate how 'emotional communities' are formed, the manner in which they function and their mediation in late modernity. Beginning with an overview of Australia's bipartisan political support for mandatory detention of boat arrivals, I emphasise the importance of media narratives to shift public debate and the role of empathy in this process, as well as the need to transcend beyond empathy and into the realm of responsibility and action.