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Social Media and Human Rights



Humanitarian Technologies: Examining Social Media in Disaster Recovery

Dr Mirca Madianou, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths

Dr Jonathan Ong, Media and Communication, Leicester


Our talk will give an overview of the Humanitarian Technologies Project, an ESRC-funded study of the uses of social and mobile media in humanitarian relief and disaster recovery. Much enthusiasm surrounds the use of digital media for humanitarian relief, as encapsulated by the term ‘humanitarian technologies’, used in recent reports to refer to the empowering nature of mobile phones and social media in disaster recovery. Our talk will critically engage this optimistic account of digital technologies as we report from our 12 month ethnography of the recovery from Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines in November 2013.

For more information about the project please visit our website: 

Eventbrite - Humanitarian Technologies


Mirca Madianou is Reader in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Previously she was Newton Trust Lecturer in Sociology and Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge and Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester. She has published extensively on the social consequences of new communication technologies among marginalised or minority populations especially in the developing world. Her approach is transnational, ethnographic and comparative while her work makes theoretical and substantive contributions to the areas of migration, disaster recovery, humanitarian relief and their intersection with digital technology.  She is the author of Mediating the Nation: News, Audiences and the Politics of Identity(2005) and Migration and New Media: Transnational Families and Polymedia (2012 with D. Miller) as well as editor of Ethics of Media (2013 with N. Couldry and A. Pinchevski). Mirca is currently the Vice-Chair of the Philosophy, Theory and Critique division of the International Communication Association (ICA).

Jonathan Corpus Ong is Lecturer in Media and Communications at University of Leicester. From his involvement in the Humanitarian Technologies Project, he later became lead researcher in the DFID-funded “Who’s Listening? Accountability to Affected People in the Haiyan Response” and “Obliged to Be Grateful”, initiatives linked to humanitarian accountability policy reform for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit.  He is the author of The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines (2015; Anthem Press) and co-editor of Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space (forthcoming; Rowman & Littlefield). He is interested in the ethics of media and humanitarianism, media in the global South, and production studies.

Required reading

Madianou, M., Longboan, L. and Ong, J. C. (2015). ‘Finding a Voice Through Humanitarian Technologies? Communication Technologies and Participation in Disaster Recovery’International Journal of Communication 9 (2015), 3020–3038

Supplementary readings

Madianou, Mirca. (2015). ‘Digital Inequality and Second-Order Disasters: Social Media in the Typhoon Haiyan Recovery’ Social Media + Society July-December 2015 vol. 1 no. 2

Ong, J.C. (2015). “Witnessing Distant and Proximal Suffering within a ‘Zone of Danger’: Lay Moralities of Media Audiences in the Philippines“. International Communication Gazette.

Ong, J.C. (2015). “Charity Appeals as ‘Poverty Porn’? Production Ethics in Representing Suffering Children and Typhoon Haiyan Beneficiaries in the Philippines”. In Mayer, V., Banks, M., Conor, B., & Caldwell, J. (eds.). Production Studies, the Sequel! London & New York: Taylor & Francis

Madianou, M. (2015) ‘Polymedia and ethnography: understanding the social in social media‘ Social Media and Society, vol. 1 (1).



About this website

This is the website for Ella McPherson's work related to her 2014-17 ESRC-funded research project, Social Media, Human Rights NGOs, and the Potential for Governmental Accountability.