Representing Precarity, Disavowing Politics: The Exceptional(ist) Appeal of Humans of New York

Jennifer Nish

Abstract: This article argues that rhetorical engagement on social media involves everyday acts of citizenship that are enmeshed in transnational power relationships. The article analyzes two widely-circulated series of photo-stories about Syrian and Iraqi refugees by the blog Humans of New York (HONY) and audience engagement with the series on social media. Many audience members perceived the series and their engagement with the stories as acts that opposed the racist and Islamophobic discourses in the United States during the 2015 refugee crisis. However, the photo-stories and comments often reproduced the imperialist and racist logics through which Syrian and Iraqi refugees experience precarity and state violence. 

Keywords: Humans of New York (HONY), refugee crisis, Syrian and Iraqi refugees, imperialism, precarity, transnational feminist rhetorics 


Nish, Jennifer. "Representing Precarity, Disavowing Politics: The Exceptional(ist) Appeal of Humans of New York. Peitho 20.2 (2018): 364-99.