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Undercurrents is a regular podcast series featuring interviews with Chatham House experts - and others - about the critical underlying issues which are shaping modern society. Hosted by staff from across the institute, each episode goes in-depth on a topic, looking beyond the news to explore the issues shaping global politics.

Chatham House is an independent policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

Jul 16, 2020

Policy-makers and researchers are daily confronted by violent images that influence how complex political problems are seen and consequently understood. From bodycam footage revealing acts of police brutality, to media coverage of the catastrophic impact of the refugee crisis, depictions of violence and horror spread at startling speed through social media platforms, drawing out powerful emotional responses from public and policymaker alike. 

In the last episode of Undercurrents before the summer break, Ben speaks to three academics whose work explores the connections between violent images and politics. Dr Helen Berents explains how images of suffering children are deployed in political debates around interventions. Dr Stefanie Fishel shows how horror movies provide a space for understanding public responses to apocalyptic events such as nuclear war or global pandemics. Dr Constance Duncombe then discusses how social media platforms accelerate the spread of violent images, and the effects this has on policy responses. 

Read the International Affairs article:

Politics, policy-making and the presence of images of suffering children

Read the International Affairs article:

Horror, apocalypse and world politics

Read the International Affairs article:

Social media and the visibility of horrific violence


Speakers: Helen Berents, Constance Duncombe, Stefanie Fishel

Hosts: Agnes Frimston, Ben Horton

Sound Editor: Jamie Reed

Recorded and produced by Chatham House