Pity and fear. Sentimental education and sentimental propaganda in the refugee crisis

The project focuses on the transformation of emotions as one potential pathway to societal change. It explores how emotions are shaped in the context of the “refugee crisis”: Anti-immigration activists recur to fear (of crime or loss of identity) as a legitimation of their activism. The pro-asylum movements, in turn, rely on the emotion of compassion. Both groups not only refer to these emotions, but also try to arouse them in others, e.g. through rhetoric, public art or documentaries. The project takes stock of these attempts of sentimental education (R. Rorty) and, in a second step, assesses their normative desirability.

Keywords  Refugee crisis; moral revolutions; sentimental education; emotions