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The Many Layers of Moral Outrage

Kurdish Activists and Diaspora Politics

Nerina Weiss

This article takes the expressions of moral outrage in an illegal demonstration in Norway as a point of entry to explore how the political unfolds in Kurdish diasporic spaces. The premise for this analysis is that moral outrage among pro-Kurdish activists is an enduring, intergenerational process, the expression of which displays a multitemporality and multidirectionality. In order to explore the many layers of moral outrage this article proposes an analysis along the literature of political ritual and performance, which focuses on signification, symbolism, identity constructions, and the importance of audiences. I argue that Kurdish activists consciously perform their moral outrage to position themselves in relation to their host country, other Kurdish activists in Norway, and the larger transnational Kurdish community in Europe. As such, moral outrage turns out to be central in the enactment of Kurdish diaspora politics.

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Introduction

The Generative Power of Political Emotions

Mette-Louise Johansen, Therese Sandrup and Nerina Weiss

Moral outrage has until now been conceptualized as a call to action, a reaction to injustice and transgressions, and a forceful motor for democratic participation, acts of civil disobedience, and violent and illicit action. This introduction goes beyond linear causality between trigger events, political emotions, and actions to explore moral outrage as it is experienced and expressed in contexts of political violence, providing a better understanding of that emotion’s generic power. Moral outrage is here understood as a multidimensional emotion that may occur momentarily and instantly, and exist as an enduring process and being-in-the-world, based on intergenerational experiences of violence, state histories, or local contexts of fear and anxiety. Because it appears in the intersubjective field, moral outrage is central for identity politics and social positioning, so we show how moral outrage may be a prism to investigate and understand social processes such as mobilization, collectivities, moral positioning and responsiveness, and political violence.

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Peter Hervik

This afterword offers reflections on some major points of this section concerning the generative power linking moral outrage to political violence. The authors have successfully taken up a topic of immense relevance and urgency in contemporary society. Their efforts are a first important step to address this from an empirical, analytical, and theoretical framework. In the afterword, I seek to add further perspectives to some of the findings, including a focus on moral outrage that situates it not strictly within personality as a preexisting universal that waits for someone to wake it up but rather in an approach to emotions as embedded within cultural understandings with an emphasis on the strategic side of the production of moral outrage in creating both positive and negative change.

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Therese Sandrup

In this article, I draw on ethnographic data from previous fieldworks among Turkish immigrant families in a Norwegian suburb (2008–2009) and, more recently, on preventative actions against radicalization (2015–2016). As point of departure, I outline two events considered morally outrageous by many of my interlocutors: the Gaza War (2008–2009) and the repression of the Syrian civil uprising in 2011. By contextualizing moral outrage and analyzing certain incidents as “triggers” among people who are already outraged, I aim at providing a better understanding of that emotion’s generic power. I will also give an example of how a “trigger” incident can provide an emotional outlet. In seeing moral outrage as a kind of “prism” through which people negotiate values around right and wrong, good and bad, I will argue that these negotiations might as well result in generating emotional relief and to restored integrity.

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Navigating the Politics of Anxiety

Moral Outrage, Responsiveness, and State Accountability in Denmark

Mette-Louise Johansen

This article explores how Danish police officers and social workers involved in countering violent extremism (CVE) seek to cope with the possibility of public moral outrage being directed at the welfare state when issues of security and integration arise. In such cases, state officials are faced with a difficult dilemma: on the one hand, they could be blamed for inefficient casework if there is a terror attack. On the other hand, the target group could perceive their intervention as outrageous, in which case it may end up producing the violence that it purports to prevent. The response to this dilemma is a dynamic shift between early and intense intervention on the one hand, and hesitation and “pulling back” from intervention on the other. I suggest that this dynamic response plays a crucial role in risk assessment and decision-making processes related to CVE efforts in Denmark.

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Moral Thresholds of Outrage

The March for Hrant Dink and New Ways of Mobilization in Turkey

Lorenzo D’Orsi

This article analyses the social construction of moral outrage, interpreting it as both an extemporaneous feeling and an enduring process, objectified in narratives and rituals and permeating public spaces as well as the intimate sphere of social actors’ lives. Based on ethnography carried out in Istanbul, this contribution focuses on the assassination of the Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. This provoked a moral shock and led to an annual commemoration in which thousands of people—distant in political, religious, ethnic positions—gather around a shared feeling of outrage. The article retraces the narratives of innocence and the moral frames that make Dink’s public figure different from other victims of state violence, thus enabling a moral and emotional identification of a large audience. Outrage over Dink’s murder has become a creative, mobilizing force that fosters new relationships between national history and subjectivity, and de-reifies essentialized social boundaries and identity claims.

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Danger, Moral Opacity, and Outrage

Fear of Jihadism and the Terrorist Threat in Southern Mali

Tone Sommerfelt

This article explores hostile narratives and moral outrage in the context of rising conflict in urban Mali, with a specific emphasis on religious and spatial politics in Bamako. Based on ethnographic observations, interviews, and group discussions, the article examines the specific forms that moral outrage may take in contexts of insecurity and an imminent threat of violence. It argues that moral outrage concerns the transgression of values that are intrinsic to moral being. In the Mali setting, moral outrage emerges as justifiable when people fail, or refuse, to make visible or prove their moral being. Suspected ill-doers are ascribed economic, political, and religious agendas that threaten what it means to be Muslim and that violate the value of the mutual solidarity of the Muslim community and of the nation. At the same time, the public expression of moral outrage contributes to a broader negotiation of identities and state-society relationships.

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Roger Sabin

The article argues that the significance of the nineteenth-century comics character Ally Sloper cannot be understood without reference to the parallel career that this fictional celebrity developed across other media, most notably music hall. The history and evolution of the textual character, and of his various incarnations on stage and screen, are chronicled, with the aim both of documenting the expansion of working-class leisure culture and of demonstrating the centrality of Sloper to the development of a specifically British theatrical tradition that moved away from earlier continental models. Contemporary responses to Sloper, including moral outrage, are discussed, and the article concludes by analysing the skilled commercial exploitation of the character which would influence later practices in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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Stacy M. K. George

translated as “ritual work” ( Collins 2004: 108 ). These emotions produce a collective sentiment of inclusivity by establishing a narrative of in-groups and out-groups (IR point 2). Moreover, by incorporating religious principles, emotions such as moral