chapter  Chapter 9
19 Pages

Benevolence, global citizenship, and post-racial politics 1

WithDavid Jefferess

This chapter explores how benevolence, as a discourse informing the rhetoric of global citizenship, articulates a post-racial politics. The chapter begins by briefly mapping the arguments of Appiah, Fassin, and Riggs, as regards the complex dynamic between the ethic of benevolence, the ideal of human dignity, and social relations of material power. I then analyse the construction of James Orbinski and Stephen Lewis as model humanitarians in two documentary films as well as how the Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s travelling development exhibit, Bridges that Unite, produces the ideal of the ‘Agent of Change’. I argue that global citizenship is produced as the signature of a new modernity. To fully enact humanity is to have the responsibility to aid and uplift an other who is not (yet) modern. The performance of benevolence is not bound by race, and specifically ‘being white’, but is indebted to, and rearticulates, whiteness and race thinking in a way that belies the ongoing dynamics of colonial racism.