Feeling Right: Taste, Style, and Affect in Human Rights Work

  • Greg A. MullinsEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Human Rights book series (PSLCHR)


In the 1980s Amnesty International USA shifted strategy and tactics, and developed new models to advance its work, including sponsoring popular music concerts. In doing so, AIUSA leveraged melodrama and human rights emotions or human rights affect. This period of the history of Amnesty International opens our understanding of the feelings human rights organizations foster among a public, the shared affect that brings (some) people to the table. This chapter arrives at an understanding of affect and especially the melodramatic staging of human rights heroism by seeing through a lens of taste and style. I argue that both the material and the emotional frameworks of human rights work are clarified when we understand what stakeholders consider done in good taste. I further argue that style is not ancillary to human rights work. Human rights work, pursued as and through representation, is generated through style.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Evergreen State CollegeOlympiaUSA

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