Agnieszka Sobocinska
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‘Springs of love’
Sentiment and affect in mid-twentiethcentury development volunteering
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During the 1950s and 1960s, tens of thousands of well-meaning Westerners left their homes and families to volunteer in distant corners of the globe. Aflame with optimism, they set out to save the world, but their actions were invariably intertwined with national and racial power in the overlapping contexts of decolonisation, globalisation and the Cold War. Development volunteering demanded ordinary people leave the comforts of home to spend one, two or even three years in previously unfamiliar reaches of the Third World. Why did tens of thousands of Australians, Britons and Americans respond to this call, and why were they so enthusiastic about it? This chapter explores volunteers’ multiple and often overlapping motivations, ranging from idealism, political or religious convictions and professional ambition to dissatisfaction with life at home and the desire for adventure. Based on hundreds of application forms submitted by intending volunteers, this chapter shows how individual sentiments and emotions were translated into action on the international stage. It also situates personal motivations within the broader expansion of travel and tourism, arguing that individual desires to save the world were enabled and encouraged by accelerating globalisation and the expansion of transnational capitalism during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Humanitarianism, empire and transnationalism, 1760–1995

Selective humanity in the Anglophone world


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