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Davide Rodogno

This chapter offers a reflection on two features of modern/contemporary western humanitarianism: arrogance and compassion. The objective of the chapter is to put forward and historicise arrogance, offering an ad hoc – usable – definition, and to do the same with compassion. The chapter engages with the historiography of this increasingly densely populated field, offering reflections on the state of humanitarian history both within and without this edited collection.

in The Red Cross Movement
The American Red Cross in the last war of Cuban independence (1895–1898)
Francisco Javier Martínez

This chapter takes one episode of Spain’s modern history as a case study to move the focus of Red Cross historiography towards less rigid national and colonial categories. It focuses on the relief initiatives carried out during the last war of Cuban independence in 1895–8. It suggests that it was here that the American Red Cross openly made its push for world domination of humanitarian power, and challenged the model of colonial expansion practised by other national societies under a model set up and controlled by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

in The Red Cross Movement
The First World War and the expansion of the Canadian Red Cross Society’s humanitarian vision
Sarah Glassford

When the Canadian Red Cross (CRCS) was created in 1896 as the first colonial branch of the British Red Cross, it held closely to the Red Cross Movement’s founding vision of inactivity in peacetime. While other national Red Cross societies expanded beyond the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, the CRCS did not – and, as a result, failed to thrive. This chapter will examine the role of the First World War in transforming the CRCS into a nationwide patriotic and humanitarian cause, its wartime work fuelled by British imperialism and an emerging sense of English-Canadian nationalism born of the war. The CRCS’s evolution between 1914 and 1919 therefore offers a useful case study of how intersecting national, imperial and transnational forces shaped the evolution of one humanitarian organisation.

in The Red Cross Movement
Caroline Reeves

The Chinese Red Cross Society was founded in 1904 by a group of Chinese elites intent on helping their countrymen trapped by the Russo-Japanese war in north China. But even before this date, the Red Cross Movement was familiar to the imperial Chinese Government and to a growing cadre of Chinese intellectuals, merchants and officials. How did the Chinese understand the Red Cross Movement? How did they come to adopt a western organisation, permeated by principles and preoccupations foreign to China’s own cultural and material context? This chapter uncovers the original Chinese debates regarding China’s adherence to the Geneva Conventions and the formation of a Red Cross society sparked by the 1899 meeting at The Hague. These debates reveal important insights and correctives to the idea of ‘universality’ in the Red Cross principles. 

in The Red Cross Movement
Abstract only
The American Red Cross in an era of contested neutrality, 1914–1917
Branden Little

From 1914 to the early 1920s – the era of the First World War – the American Red Cross (ARC) was best known for its dynamic growth into an organisation boasting tens of millions of members who energetically participated in a wide array of relief and reconstruction initiatives across war-torn Europe. Less is known about the ARC’s profound struggles during the period of American neutrality, from 1914 to 1917. Every major undertaking that the Red Cross leadership initiated when the United States was neutral failed. It failed to orchestrate a national relief movement, to undertake substantive foreign relief operations and to adapt institutionally to America’s military entry in the war. Given its abject ‘failure to launch’ in these ways, it is all the more remarkable that the ARC became the nation’s leading relief society during the period of American belligerency, 1917–18. In order to appreciate that unlikely transformation, this chapter considers the hurdles over which the ARC initially stumbled.

in The Red Cross Movement
The Norwegian Red Cross and Biafra, 1967–1970
Eldrid Mageli

This chapter addresses the issue of humanitarian aid during a conflict that today is largely forgotten, the Biafra civil war of the late 1960s, and in doing so re-examines the question of whether humanitarian aid can do harm in times of war, by prolonging the conflict. When the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), complying with international rules, grounded its planes because federal Nigerian authorities demanded it, the Nigerian Red Cross (NRC) objected to the decision. This created considerable tension between the NRC and the ICRC. The chapter discusses the impact of Red Cross aid to Biafra, the role of the NRC in the conflict and its objection to ICRC policy in the Biafra crisis.

in The Red Cross Movement
A comparison between the Dutch Red Cross 1940–1945, and the Dutch East Indies Red Cross, 1942–1950
Leo van Bergen

This chapter is a case study of the activities of, contexts for and influences upon Red Cross actions and thinking, specifically within the context of war, colonialism and power, and of how, theoretically at least, neutral Red Cross assistance to sick and wounded soldiers was undertaken. This problem is explored through a comparative analysis of the Nederlandse Rode Kruis (Dutch Red Cross) in the years when Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands (1940–5), and the Nederlands-Indische Rode Kruis (Dutch Indies Red Cross) through the years of Japanese occupation and the following war of decolonisation (1942–50).

in The Red Cross Movement
The British Order of St John of Jerusalem and the Red Cross in the Spanish civil wars of the 1870s
Jon Arrizabalaga, Guillermo Sánchez-Martínez and J. Carlos García-Reyes

The Third Carlist War confronted the Spanish liberal Government’s troops with legitimist rebels between 1872 and 1876, and was a baptism of fire for both the Spanish Red Cross and other, non-Spanish Red Cross organisations that committed resources to the humanitarian relief effort. Though the British National Aid Society appears to have refrained from involvement in this long and bloody war, several members of the British Order of St John of Jerusalem were active in the theatre of war as volunteer humanitarians. While some of them, such as Vincent Kennett-Barrington (1844–1903), went to Spain on behalf of a Society for the Relief of the Sick and Wounded of the Spanish War, others, such as John Furley (1836–1919), chose to work on behalf of the Société des Secours aux Blessés Espagnols – a committee settled in Paris with the unofficial support of the Spanish and French Red Cross. This chapter examines the mixed motives, activities and ideas of these international humanitarian volunteers, offering a snapshot of the confused – and far from unified – ‘spirit of Geneva’ at work in the years immediately following the signing of the Geneva Convention in 1864.

in The Red Cross Movement
The League of Red Cross Societies, the Australian Red Cross and its Junior Red Cross in the 1920s
Melanie Oppenheimer

This chapter examines the League of Red Cross Societies, founded in 1919, and focuses on one national society, the Australian Red Cross, and how it realigned itself as part of the transition from war to peace in the 1920s. It did this, in part, through the emerging global programme of the Junior Red Cross. To allow children to gather together under the auspices of the Red Cross to foster and extend its work beyond national borders and into the international spaces was led by the League of Red Cross Societies. Emerging national Red Cross societies such as the Australian Red Cross found value and guidance from the Movement’s new federated body, and played a part in ensuring its survival and success.

in The Red Cross Movement
Helena F. S. Lopes

In 1943 the Macau delegation of the Portuguese Red Cross was established in the South China enclave at the height of the Second World War. Two years later its president was assassinated in the streets of Macau and the following year the delegation ended its activities. It was not the first time a Macau delegation had existed, nor would it be the last, but the brief period (1943–6) during which this Red Cross delegation operated reveals many important features of wartime Macau, the activities of a small Red Cross delegation under extreme circumstances and the challenges of neutrality during the same period. Surrounded by Japanese conquests, wartime Macau became a haven of neutrality and sanctuary, with a population swollen by refugees from across Asia. This chapter explores a range of issues and shows how the Red Cross in Macau was, simultaneously, a local creation, a delegation integrated into a national/colonial context, an inter-imperial structure and part of a transnational institution with global reach.

in The Red Cross Movement