4 Professor Lilie Chouliaraki
Professor Lilie Chouliaraki

Professor Lilie Chouliaraki

Chair in Media and Communications | Doctoral Programme Director

Department of Media and Communications

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Key Expertise
humanitarian communication

About me

Prof Lilie Chouliaraki is Chair in Media and Communications in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Doctoral Programme Director.

Prof Chouliaraki has a background in Languages and Linguistics, having completed her MA and PhD at Lancaster University Department of Linguistics, before which she studied for a bachelors at the School of Philosophy, University of Athens. Her research has a strong interdisciplinary orientation, drawing on Social and Cultural Theory, Moral Philosophy and Sociology, Visual Communication and Social Semiotics as well as Discourse Theory and Analysis. Her main interest lies in understanding how the media shape our ethical and political relationship to distant others; how they inform the ways we witness the vulnerability of these others and the ways we are invited to feel, think and act towards them.

Her empirical material has included disaster news, humanitarian and human rights communication, migration as well as war and conflict journalism, studying these in a historical perspective and across mass and digital media. Prof Chouliaraki has served at a number of LSE Committees and currently sits at the Board of LSE's Women, Peace and Security Centre as well as the Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. She is Member of the AHRC Peer Review College. She is also Honorary Professor at the Copenhagen Business School and has been visiting Professor at a number of Universities, including CELSA-Sorbonne, Paris, University of Helsinki and University of Stockholm; she holds a 2017 Professorial Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bologna. Her work has been translated in Portuguese, Polish, Danish, Greek, Italian, French and Chinese.

Prof Chouliaraki's work has received funding from the Greek, Danish, Nordic and Dutch Research Councils. She is the recipient of three international awards for her publications, more recently the Outstanding Article Award from the Journalism Studies Division of the International Communication Association (2014); and the Outstanding Book of the Year award of the International Communication Association (ICA 2015, for The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism).

In 2020, Prof Chouliaraki was announced as an ICA Fellow, in recognition of her distinguished scholarly contributions to the broad field of communication.

Watch Lilie Chouliaraki's Gearty Grilling on the topic of Media Ethics & Humanitarianism.

Expertise Details

corporate communication and branding; humanitarian communication; media ethics; media representations of suffering and violence; public sphere and civil action


Professor Chouliaraki's main research focus lies in the mediation of human vulnerability, and she has spent the past two decades exploring four key domains within which human vulnerability appears as a problem of communication: disaster news, humanitarianism, migration and war. In her work on the mediation of disaster news, Professor Chouliaraki has shown the ways in which Western national and trans-national television networks follow hierarchical patterns in their narrative organisation of news on distant suffering and, hence, in the systematic distribution of ethical sensibilities towards distant others. In so doing, she concluded, they reproduce global hierarchies of place and human life, along a West/non-West axis (The Spectatorship of Suffering, Sage, 2006/2011).

In subsequent work, Prof. Chouliaraki focuses on humanitarian and human rights communication, exploring how the mediation of solidarity has changed in the course of the past fifty years. Looking into NGO appeals, rock concerts, celebrity advocacy and post-television disaster news, she demonstrates how major institutional (the commercialisation of the aid and development field), technological (the rise of new media) and political (the fall of grand narratives) transformations have also changed the moral imperative to act on distant others in need. As a consequence, she argues, solidarity has today become not about conviction but choice, not vision but lifestyle, not others but ourselves - turning us into the ironic spectators of other people's suffering (The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism, Polity, 2012). She has also coedited a state-of-the art collection on the present challenges and directions of the field, the Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication (with Anne Vestergaard, Routledge, 2021).

More recently, Professor Chouliaraki's work has turned to the communication of migration. Together with Prof. Myria Georgiou, she draws on multi-method research on the biggest migration event of the 21st century in the west - the 2015 migration “crisis” and its aftermath up to 2020 - to unpack the complexity and contradictions of the border in the age of datafication. In their book The Digital Border. Migration, Technology, Power (New York University Press, 2022), Chouliaraki and Georgiou develop a holistic theory of the digital border as an assemblage of technological infrastructures (from surveillance cameras to smartphones) and media imaginaries (stories, images, social media posts) to tell the story of migration as it unfolds in Europe’s outer islands as much as its most vibrant cities. The digital border that emerges in their study, they argue, is neither fully digital nor totally controlling. Rather, it is both digital and pre-digital; datafied and embodied; automated and self-reflexive; and traversed by fragile social relationships that entail both the despair or inhumanity and the promise of a better future.

Prof. Chouliaraki’s current work encompasses a study of the digital witnessing of war through smartphone devices or on social media platforms such as You Tube (published in Popular Communication, Information, Communication and Society; Visual Communication, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Media War and Conflict; and more recently with Dr Omar al-Ghazzi, in Journalism). At the same time, Prof. Chouliaraki is working on a critical study of the concept of victimhood and its current uses in the cultural politics of western public spheres. The manuscript is provisionally entitled Victimhood: The cultural politics of vulnerability.

An overarching interest in Prof. Chouliaraki’s work is Discourse Theory and Analysis. She has written on discourse as a theoretical approach and as a methodological tool is her book Discourse in Late Modernity. Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis (co-authored with Norman Fairclough, Edinburgh University Press, 2000) and in numerous publications (Social Semiotics, Journal of Management Studies; Linguistics and Education, Critical Discourse Studies; The Handbook of Cultural Analysis).




Other publications

  • Chouliaraki, Lilie (2012) Re-mediation, inter-mediation, trans-mediation. Journalism Studies, 14 (2). pp. 267-283. ISSN 1461-670X Outstanding Article of the Year Award, Journalism Studies Division, International Communication Association, 2014
  • Chouliaraki, Lilie (2010) Ordinary witnessing in post-television news: towards a new moral imagination. Critical Discourse Studies, 7 (4). pp. 305-319. ISSN 1740-5904. Top Paper of the Year Award, Journalism Studies Division, International Communication Association, 2010


View a comprehensive list of Professor Chouliaraki's publications here

Teaching and supervision

Postgraduate teaching

Professor Chouliaraki convenes the postgraduate course Humanitarian Communication and has contributed lectures to team-taught postgraduate Media and Communications courses relating to theories and concepts (MC408/MC418) and research methodologies (MC4M1/MC4M2).

Doctoral supervision

Professor Chouliaraki serves as Director of the Department's PhD programmes and supervises doctoral students whose topics include the mediation of human trafficking as a humanitarian cause; the gender politics of mediating domestic violence in Hungary; the relationship between mediation, mediatisation and ideology; digital media and journalistic identities in the newsroom. Applicants with backgrounds in social science disciplines including media studies, communication and discourse studies, political science and sociology are encouraged to apply.

Professor Chouliaraki's current doctoral supervisees include Kathryn HigginsRodrigo Muñoz-GonzálezVaios PapanagnouTijana Stolic and Richard Stupart.

Awards and prizes