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Journal Article

Beneath Kony 2012: Americans Aligning with Arms and Aiding Others

Amy C. Finnegan
Africa Today
Vol. 59, No. 3 (Spring 2013), pp. 137-162
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/africatoday.59.3.137
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/africatoday.59.3.137
Page Count: 27
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Beneath Kony 2012: Americans Aligning with Arms and Aiding Others
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Abstract

In March 2012, Kony 2012, a social media campaign about Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army, went viral and galvanized global attention. Despite the perceived popular novelty of the campaign, close examination suggests that the efforts of the campaign and its sponsoring organization, Invisible Children, deviate little from a historical record of American militarization of the African continent and cultural orientations that promote aiding others. Based on a study encompassing semistructured interviews and ethnography in the United States and Uganda, this article argues that Invisible Children's collective action is a noncontentious form of activism for privileged young Americans that is unlikely to lead to sustainable social change in Africa or the United States because it sponsors a narrative in which Africa remains an object to be manipulated by outsiders instead of a dynamic context with talented and knowledgeable actors, compelling ideas, and potential resources. The grave implications of this form of activism are misinformed policy and lost opportunities for more comprehensive and ultimately efficacious activism.

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