Some argue that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) offer a challenge to traditional politics and the State. This becomes all the more apparent in the transnational world where borders are more fluid and temporary communities are built out of necessities. In Bel Canto, all of these aspects come into play in the figure of Messner, the representative of the Red Cross. He wields a kind of power no other person in the text maintains.
Messner's "manner was so calm, so seemingly unaware of the chaos that surrounded them, that he could have been taking s Sunday morning collection. The Red Cross was always there to help the victims of earthquakes and floods, the very ones Vice President Iglesias was sent to comfort and assess ... 'The Red Cross,' he said to the bank of guns behind him."
Where does his power, or an NGO's power come from? Is it the way they stand on a higher ethical ground that gives them protection above others, akin to clerical or some other status outside of normal relations? How does Messner embody the state of exception, and what critical ground does that offer us as readers?
Book review: Nonhuman Photography
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