The British Red Cross and the Spanish refugees of 1939

In late January 1939, almost 500,000 Spanish Republican refugees fled into France after the fall of Catalonia to the Nationalists. Once in France, the refugees were indiscriminately placed in concentration camps on Mediterranean beaches. Surrounded by barbed wire and lacking shelter, many refugees felt their plight was directly caused by the Non-Intervention Agreement signed by their current host, France, and its ally Britain. While France was obligated to deal with the Spanish on its own soil, many expected Britain to do something to support the situation it had helped create. Thus, the British Red Cross received a £50,000 grant from the British Government to aid the work of the French Government in the camps – a paltry sum significantly hampered by both insufficiency and inefficiency. This case study highlights the close relationship that exists between national governments and national Red Cross societies and argues that, in the Spanish Civil War, the biased ‘neutrality’ of the British Government, through the Non-Intervention Agreement, directly influenced the actions and attitudes of the British Red Cross. It further investigates how the British Red Cross’s work during the Spanish Civil War reveals the priorities and prejudices of the British Government during the late 1930s.

in The Red Cross Movement
The New Zealand Red Cross and the international Red Cross Movement

During the twentieth century, the New Zealand Red Cross was one of the most distant national societies from the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies. Its engagement with them was shaped by its own complicated beginnings, and by both intersecting relationships with the British Red Cross and the challenges imposed by distance. The chapter examines the points of contact between this particular national society and the Movement; whether they were independently sustained or mediated through government actions or the influence of larger societies such as the British Red Cross; and how they changed over time. It is a study of a national society looking outwards, but also of the ways that the Movement’s lofty principles were understood and played out internally, often becoming submerged in the sheer ‘busyness’ of local Red Cross activity within New Zealand. The growing sense of New Zealand’s distinctive contribution to the Movement from the 1960s is examined in relation to the work of its overseas delegates and representatives, and to Red Cross activities in the Asia-Pacific region. A broader question interrogated here is what it means to ‘be Red Cross’ in a particular national context.

in The Red Cross Movement
The politics of Lent in early modern England

In 1538, in the midst of the Reformation in England, Henry VIII decided to provide new Lenten regulations. His intervention which relaxed some of the more stringent dietary prohibitions was not hastened by any religious change of heart but born out of a socio-economic problem – the skyrocketing price of fish during Lent and the consequent starvation of the poor. From hereon in, until the last Lenten proclamation of 1662, the matter of Lent became a battleground of warring economic and regional factions, disruptive religious ideologues, exasperated government officials and parliamentary intervention. Adding to the problem was the widespread evasion of the regulations both by the lower classes priced out of the Lenten market and by the wealthier segment of society able to buy their way out. This chapter traces the changing nature of Lenten proclamations, Privy Council orders and local regulations. In doing so it highlights the inability of the state to enforce its will on a reluctant population despite incessant cajoling, the evolving severity of Lenten punishments, failed attempts to devolve authority to the localities and the clash between the remnants of ‘Popish’ rituals and the new Protestant emphasis on state-sanctioned fast days.

in Connecting centre and locality
The United States Sanitary Commission and the development of the Red Cross Movement, 1861–1871

In 1861, President Lincoln authorised the creation of the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) – a body comprising humanitarian volunteers whose purpose was to complement the work of the Union’s Medical Bureau by sourcing supplies, inspecting hospitals and providing general succour to wounded soldiers. Two years later, when news of the first Geneva Conference reached the ears of the USSC’s leaders, they naturally assumed that the Committee of Five had been inspired by the American example to pursue its aims. Historians of the USSC have repeated these claims, despite the comprehensive rejection of the idea of an American origin for the Red Cross Movement by several leading Red Cross scholars. This paper will re-examine the issue of American influence on the Red Cross Movement by turning away from the idea that the USSC inspired the Geneva Convention. Instead, the focus here will be on how the performance of the USSC captured the imaginations of the first Red Cross volunteers, and contributed to the fundamental reshaping of the Committee of Five’s conception of the Red Cross by the dawn of the twentieth century.

in The Red Cross Movement
Terrorism, parliament and the ritual of proscription

Banning them, securing us offers a rich and expansive exploration of the politics of proscribing – or banning – terrorist organisations in Britain. The book calls attention to the remarkable, and overlooked, role of proscription debates and decisions in contemporary UK politics. Using primary empirical research, the book shows how parliamentary processes of proscribing ‘illegitimate’ organisations is as much a ritual performance as it is a technique for countering political violence. This ritual, we argue, is a performance of sovereignty and powerful framing of Britain as a liberal, democratic, moderate space. Yet, it represents a paradox too. For proscription’s processes have limited democratic or judicial oversight, and its outcomes pose significant threats to democratic norms, human rights, political dissent and citizenship more broadly.

The book breaks important new ground on the politics of terrorism, counter-terrorism, security and democracy. It will be widely read by researchers and students across Security Studies, International Relations, Political Science, History, Sociology and beyond.

This chapter explores the way in which the British Red Cross Society responded to the crisis that affected the flow of relief parcels to British prisoners of war in Germany after the summer of 1940. It argues that the Society was slow to adjust to total war conditions. It was ill equipped to deal with the intensity of public criticism, and found itself outmanoeuvred by a Government that was intent on evading its responsibility for the crisis. It was also slow in identifying ways out of the crisis, or in forging close working relations with the non-anglophone elements of the Red Cross Movement, notably the International Committee of the Red Cross and neutral national Red Cross societies.

in The Red Cross Movement
Finding a role after the Second World War

In 1974 the British Red Cross (BRCS) conducted an ‘Attitude Survey’, the analysis of which concluded that the public knew much more about the organisation’s wartime than peacetime activities, and that the number of younger members was in decline. Three decades earlier, the BRCS had faced a crisis in identity, leading to the repositioning of the charity at a time of tremendous political, social and economic change, including much more emphasis on international humanitarian aid. Indeed, in 1947 the BRCS’s Public Relations Department stated that the public needed to know that the ‘British Red Cross still exists’. To what extent did the end of the Second World War and the launch of the National Health Service in 1948 affect policy, philanthropy, volunteerism and public perceptions of the charity? Drawing on the wider historiography on postwar humanitarianism, the Welfare State and voluntarism, this chapter analyses the way in which the BRCS adapted, and co-operated with State services and other charities between 1946 and 1974.

in The Red Cross Movement
Can performance care?

Extending Laura Cull’s question of whether performance thinks to caring, this chapter reimagines the relationship between caregiver and cared for as one of improvisational moral performance that provides the means to not only understand the emergent dynamics and phenomena of care but also reorient our approach to teaching ethics and cultivating ethical behavior. A caring improvisation is a moment when we draw upon a set of rehearsed cognitive and bodily skills of inquiry and action to responsively perform care on behalf of the needs of others. This approach assumes that moral normativity is emergent rather than fixed thus requiring the caregiver to have developed attention skills as well as an openness or disponibilité toward others. The aesthetic approach found in the relatively recently developed field of performance philosophy provides a means to think about care ethics/theory in non-authoritative ways beyond traditional analytical and a priori approaches to morality favoured by Western philosophy.

in Performing care
Open Access (free)
An examination of Godder’s socially engaged art and participatory dance for Parkinson’s work

This chapter examines whether an aesthetics of care may redefine dance performance and a choreographer’s artistic process. It discusses this idea by exploring a specific symbiotic relationship between a community dance programme and a professional artistic production, both directed by the choreographer Yasmeen Godder. Godder’s Stabat Mater (now performed under the title Simple Action) is examined in relation to the company’s programme for people with Parkinson’s. The chapter argues that Stabat Mater is an illustration of a different way of thinking about arts and health engagement: it is not about care for participants who are ill, but about the responsive and attentive relationship between artist and participant. Care operates within Stabat Mater and the dance work, which involves audience participation, is seen as an outcome of how the Parkinson’s dance programme has influenced Godder’s artistic process and production. In other words, Stabat Mater, as a performance of care, has to be understood in the context of Godder’s artistic engagement with people who can be seen as vulnerable movers (traditionally seen as ‘cared for’), but who changed the way Godder thought about her work.

in Performing care

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