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

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
Open Access (free)
A practical politics of care

Clean Break, founded in 1979 by two women serving sentences in an English prison, has developed over the last four decades into an influential theatre, education and advocacy organisation, positioning narratives of women affected by the criminal justice system centre stage. In this chapter, Joan Tronto’s work on care, markets and justice ([1993] 2009, 2013) informs my reading of Clean Break’s organisational practices as care. From its distinctive approach to developing new writing for theatre, to its enduring commitment to reach audiences through partnerships with criminal justice, cultural and voluntary sector organisations, Clean Break creates structures of care for women who have fallen beyond the reach of state systems of welfare: the subjects of stigma, regulation and punishment. In this chapter, I argue that Clean Break not only critiques the intersectional oppressions that shape the lives of many women who experience the criminal justice system but, through its responsive and interconnected practices, attends to a care deficit in society, integral to the company’s commitment to equality and justice.

in Performing care
The First World War and the expansion of the Canadian Red Cross Society’s humanitarian vision

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