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Open Access (free)
Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Alexandra Cosima Budabin
and
Lisa Ann Richey

This forum brings together a diverse group of scholars from political geography, international relations, critical organisation studies, global development, international studies and political sociology to explore the debates and dynamics of celebrity engagement with development and humanitarianism. The contributions here come from a series of roundtables organised in 2021, including one at the 6th World Conference on Humanitarian Studies of the International Humanitarian Studies Association in Paris that discussed the findings and insights of the book Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development (University of Minnesota Press, 2021).

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Lisette R. Robles

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a complicated challenge embedded in displaced people’s lived experiences throughout the conflict displacement cycle. Despite the awareness of existing institutionalised help-seeking referral pathways, these do not necessarily translate to the full utilisation of such services. This paper examines the critical role of refugee leaders and service providers in potentially enabling and realising a GBV survivor’s help-seeking. By adapting a meso-level analysis, it attempts to explain how social networks built within conflict and displacement contribute to responding to GBV. Based on the review of collected interviews in 2019 from refugee leaders and service providers working with South Sudanese refugees in selected settlements in Uganda, the paper reflects on the importance of network, norms and trust in effectively responding to GBV in conditions of conflict-affected displacement.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Phoebe Shambaugh
and
Bertrand Taithe
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
What Lessons Can Be Drawn from Case Studies in France, the United States and Madagascar?
Hugo Carnell

Despite its long history, plague has not been an internationally significant disease since the mid-twentieth century, and it has attracted minimal modern critical attention. Strategies for treating plague are generally outdated and of limited effectiveness. However, plague remains endemic to a few developing nations, most prominently Madagascar. The outbreak of a major plague epidemic across several Madagascan urban areas in 2017 has sparked a wider discourse about the necessity of improving global preparedness for a potential future plague pandemic. Beyond updating treatment modalities, a key aspect of improving preparedness for such a pandemic involves a process of sophisticated review of historical public health responses to plague epidemics. As part of this process, this article outlines and compares public health responses to three separate epidemics from the early modern era onwards: Marseille in 1720–22, San Francisco in 1900–04 and Madagascar in 2017. Based on this process, it identifies three key themes common to successful responses: (1) clear, effective and minimally bureaucratic public health protocols; (2) an emphasis on combating plague denialism by gaining the trust and cooperation of the affected population; and (3) the long-term suppression of plague through the minimisation of contact between humans and infected small mammals.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Synchronicity in Historical Research and Archiving Humanitarian Missions
Bertrand Taithe
,
Mickaël le Paih
, and
Fabrice Weissman

This roundtable was convened on 5 July 2022 and built on five years of collaborative work in Cambodia and ongoing collaborations within the Centre de Reflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires (CRASH) at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) between Bertrand Taithe, Mickaël le Paih and Fabrice Weissman. The central question raised in this discussion relates to two profoundly intermeshed issues for humanitarian practitioners and organisations: the use of history for humanitarian organisations, and the need for them to preserve and maintain archives.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Sara Wong

This article explores some of the challenges, learnings, reflections and opportunities involved in collaborating with grassroots artist collectives in conflict-affected places in academic settings. Using as a case study the collaborative production of the animated short film ‘Colombia’s Broken Peace’, as part of a wider international research project, I reflect on our experiences in co-producing this piece by drawing out lessons that might be relevant for others interested in undertaking similar inter-disciplinary work. In doing so, I aim to re-frame notions of ‘impact’ and ‘capacity building’ in conflict research to a more complex picture of mutual learning and knowledge exchange.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Gender Norm Change during Displacement?
Michelle Lokot

International humanitarian actors, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies, often focus on gender norm change when conducting gender analysis among refugees and internally displaced persons. Dominant humanitarian narratives about gender in research reports, assessments and technical guidance reveal an underlying belief that displacement is causative – an external, intervening force. In such analysis, colonial and neoliberal ideologies may influence how refugees’ lives are represented, resulting in depictions of lack of modernity, tradition and culture as overarching (yet ill-defined) forces, and women and girls as vulnerable by default. Such analysis is frequently ahistorical, presented without analysis of the pre-displacement situation. This paper explores and challenges humanitarian narratives about gender norm change during displacement. It is based on feminist ethnographic research in Jordan with Syrian women and men as well as interviews with humanitarian workers. The paper demonstrates that assumptions about lack of empowerment of Syrian women and men may be misguided, identifying both subtle and more overt forms of Syrian women’s and men’s resistance’ to expected norms. It urges humanitarian actors to use ‘resistance’ as an alternative to analysing ‘change’, recognise heterogeneity within populations, resist ‘rapid’ data collection, challenge paternalistic and colonial stereotypes, and reflect complexity in analysis.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Monika Gehlawat

Using political and critical theory, this article identifies in James Baldwin a model for citizenship unique to the Black artist who assumed the dual responsibilities of art practice and political activism. I engage with Baldwin’s fiction and his writing about other Black artists working in theater, film, dance, and music during the period of the civil rights movement. Across his career, Baldwin’s prevailing view was that, because of their history, Black artists have the singular, and indeed superlative, capacity to make art as praxis. Baldwin explains that the craft of the Black artist depends upon representing truths, rather than fantasies, about their experience, so that they are at once artists pursuing freedom and citizens pursuing justice. This article pays particular attention to the tension between living a public, political life and the need for privacy to create art, and ultimately the toll this takes on the citizen artist. Baldwin demonstrates how the community of mutual support he finds among Black artists aids in their survival. In his writings on Sidney Poitier and Lorraine Hansberry, his friendships with Beauford Delaney and Josephine Baker, as well as his reviews of music and literature, Baldwin assembles a collective he refers to as “I and my tribe.”

James Baldwin Review
A Review
Herb Boyd

This review of the James Baldwin symposium at Virginia State University weighs the insights presented by a number of Black and white scholars, only a few of whom might be considered deeply informed about his life and legacy. Even so, the emerging thinkers provide a wealth of new and interesting perspectives on Baldwin, and the event was highlighted by Molefi Kete Asante’s critical lecture. His comments are a veritable call to arms, an invitation to Baldwin devotees to contend with his conclusions, a process which this article will begin.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Justin A. Joyce

Justin A. Joyce introduces the eighth volume of James Baldwin Review with a discussion of the US Supreme Court, the misdirected uproar over Critical Race Theory, a survey of canonical dystopian novels, and the symbolism of masking during COVID-19.

James Baldwin Review