Apprehending the "Telegenic Dead": Considering images of dead children in global politics

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Images of suffering children have long been used to illustrate the violence and horror of conflict. In recent years, it is images of dead children that have garnered attention from media audiences around the world. In response to the deaths of four children killed by the Israeli army while playing on a Gazan beach, Israeli PrimeMinister Netenyahu accused Hamas of generating "telegenically dead" Palestinian children for their cause (CNN 2014). In this article, it argues with this term to consider the appearance of images of dead children in global politics. I draw on a growing literature relating to the corpse as a subject in international relations (IR), asking how children's bodies are understood, following Butler, as "grievable lives." It explores the notion of "iconic" images and the politics of sharing images of dead bodies and consider global power relations that allow certain children's deaths to be visible and not others. Through this analysis, the article argues that the idea of telegenic death might be productively considered to understand how the fleshy reality of children's deaths contribute to discussions about the representation and visibility of children in contexts of crisis and conflict.




Berents, H. (2019). Apprehending the “Telegenic Dead”: Considering images of dead children in global politics. International Political Sociology, 13(2), 145–160.

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