Juxtaposing two audiospheres (the Haitian streets after the 2010 earthquake and the “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon), this essay brings together scholarship on the visuality of suffering with work on music and emotion in order to explore the links between singing and knowledge, between humanitarianism and culture in the Caribbean, and between the photojournalism of disaster and the musicology of the disaster telethon. Even as Haitians sang widely in response to the earthquake, the disaster telethon, in its visual depiction of the sufferers, did not broadcast Haitians singing but rather rendered them unamplified and mute. The telethon focused on the emotionality of the American popular singers, and overwrote the story of the disaster with an American way of knowing, divorced entirely from Caribbean narratives, histories, and understandings. McAllister crystallizes connections between realms that might otherwise be difficult to discern: privatized humanitarianism, emotion, celebrity, entertainment, and the mediatized image of the Caribbean nation of Haiti.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| November 01 2012
Elizabeth McAlister; Soundscapes of Disaster and Humanitarianism: Survival Singing, Relief Telethons, and the Haiti Earthquake. Small Axe 1 November 2012; 16 (3 39): 22–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-1894078
Download citation file: