The “White Savior Industrial Complex” – Lit Review – Intro

What is necessary to dismantle the myth of the White Savior Industrial Complex is the employment of counter-narratives to combat naturalized digital whiteness.

I developed a literature review in December 2012 around the “White Savior Industrial Complex” as part of my graduate class at USF: “Race, Culture and Ethnicity”. Following are portions of my paper in a series.


This literature review focuses on how Western media aids in sustaining a phenomenon called the “White Savior Industrial Complex” (Cole, 2012).  This concept, coined by the author and poet Teju Cole, posits that Western media contorts and oversimplifies developing or “Third World” countries’ problems; through Western media outlets (books and journalism), aid concerts, charity galas, and social media campaigns, the West continues to propagate the White colonial theoretical frame that poor countries, as objects, need the West to “save” them and right the wrongs that they cannot do themselves. Globalization and the rise of social media has shaped the contours of this narrative with greater impact (and ease) – stories of “the other” are now circulated at warp speed across social networks, purporting “the other” as objects and not subjects, while leaving the hard work (and pleasure derived from it) to the West. In many ways, international development discourse and policies mirror colonialist practices of the West; moreover, due to the way media is employed, it also validates and supports white privilege.


3 thoughts on “The “White Savior Industrial Complex” – Lit Review – Intro

  1. Pingback: Charity Capitalism and Citizenship | Eduvocative

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