In this conversation, Miriam Ticktin and I talk about the problematic characteristics of discourses and legislation that particularize figures of innocence. Suffering and sick bodies are particularly subject to this process that distinguish innocent subjects from their necessary corollary, guilty ones. Miriam unfolds for us this aspect of her work regarding migrant’s claims for humanitarian exceptions and asylum in France. We talk of the role of the medical expertise in this context, as well as NGOs and other humanitarian institutions’ self-claim of “apolitical” function contrasting their particularism for suffering women or children for instance. We ends this conversation with the illustrative example of the siege on Gaza. whose coverage tends to distinguish the innocence of Palestinian children, thus developing the legitimacy of a demagogic narrative in which Palestinian adults could be considered as less innocent.
Miriam Ticktin is associate professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research, and co-director of the Zolberg Center on Global Migration at the New School. She is the author of Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France, University of California Press, 2011 (co-winner of the 2012 Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology); and In the Name of Humanity: the Government of Threat and Care (co-edited with Ilana Feldman), Duke University Press, 2010, along with a number of other articles and book chapters. She is also a founding co-editor of the journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development.