On Discomfort and Empathy as Ethical Relations

Norouzi, Minou. 2019. 'On Discomfort and Empathy as Ethical Relations'. In: 107th CAA Annual Conference. College Art Association (CAA), United States 13-16 February 2019. [Conference or Workshop Item]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

This paper is concerned with the prevailing campaigning desire of documentary and its historical entanglement with the idea that engendering empathy in viewers will give rise to political action, or help create a more just, equitable paradigm of a ‘better world’. I examine the documentary method in an interdisciplinary context paying particular attention to the historical fault lines of documentary’s aspiration to be of socio-political use and examine what this can tell us about potential fault lines to come in art.
I examine the use-value of the documentary's preoccupation with the production of empathy for socio-political ends. To solicit empathy in the viewer, I propose, is to embed into the work an error of cinematic language. And this error, I suggest, may negatively impact on the political efficacy of the work.

Presented at the “Art and Empathy” panel at the College Art Association (CAA) 107th Annual Conference, New York. (2019)

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology > Centre for Visual Anthropology (CVA)


January 2019Accepted
12 February 2019Published

Event Location:

College Art Association (CAA), United States

Date range:

13-16 February 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Oct 2019 15:25

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2019 15:25



Edit Record Edit Record (login required)