Introduction Quantification is an essential component of contemporary humanitarianism. It has manifested most clearly in the proliferation of indexes, metrics, indicators and rankings across the humanitarian sector: CATO’s Human Freedom Index rates each country on a scale of 0–10 to judge the freedom they allow their citizens, the UN’s Integrated Phase Classification categorises countries’ food insecurity into five quantitatively-based tiers to
Introduction Drawing its energy from the wave of New Left and counter-cultural radicalism of the 1960s ( Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005 ), an NGO-led direct humanitarian action pushed onto the international stage during the 1970s. The radicalism of this new anti-establishment sans frontières humanitarianism lay in its political challenge to the conventions of Cold War sovereignty. By being there on the ground it sought to hold sovereign power to account, witnessing its excesses while professing a face-to-face humanitarian
order. Eurocentrism has taught us to see the potential end of an era in every relative change in Western power. Thinking about the role of humanitarianism today requires that we don’t reproduce or unwittingly celebrate Western-led order by mourning the end of a history that never actually existed. Given past and present non-Western experiences of liberal order, we might ask: what’s there to mourn? My personal experiences of research and knowledge production regarding humanitarianism have reinforced in me an anti-colonial ethos – an intellectual
humanitarianism, humanity, human 73 4 Humanitarianism, 1 humanity, human A few people have a bed for the night For a night the wind is kept from them The snow meant for them falls on the roadway – Bertolt Brecht2 Brecht’s poem A Bed for the Night tells how a man stands on a street corner in New York soliciting beds for the homeless. Although this ‘won’t change the world’, it does mean ‘a few men have a bed for the night’. The reader is called upon not to ‘put the book down on reading this’, because there is more to be said. What remains to be said is the
This book examines the shifting relationship between humanitarianism and the expansion, consolidation and postcolonial transformation of the Anglophone world across three centuries.
Rather than exploring this relationship within a generalised narrative, an introductory essay sets out its key features throughout the imperial and post-imperial period, before carefully selected chapters explore trade-offs between humane concern and the altered context of colonial and postcolonial realpolitik with case studies distributed between the late eighteenth and late twentieth centuries.
Together, the collection enables us to tease out the relationship between British humanitarian concerns and the uneven imagination and application of emancipation; the shifting tensions between ameliorative humanitarianism and assertive human rights; the specificities of humanitarian governance; the shifting locales of humanitarian donors, practitioners and recipients as decolonisation reconfigured imperial relationships; and the overarching question of who Anglo humanitarianism is for.
intervene in race exploitation. It did so just at the moment when an idea of white Australian sovereignty was being shored up in other areas of law and policy. 3 A growing body of scholarship has revisited humanitarianism’s historical entanglements with nation-building projects to unpack how humanitarians’ long-term objectives, so often grounded in values of universal humanity, allowed new sovereign powers to
around security) are modelled on whiteness and westernness – on protecting not just white aid workers but the white project of aid as it descends upon ‘risky’ non-western spaces. This criticism extends from how aid engages with local populations (see Benton, 2016 ; Jennings, 2019 ; Loftsdóttir, 2009 ) to the structures and ideologies of humanitarianism, development and international relations (see Anievas et al. , 2015 ; Rutazibwa, 2019
West. A new political economy of humanitarian aid developed, reinforcing the symbiosis between humanitarianism and the state. The sufficiency of a humanitarian minimum became justification for cuts in public expenditure, particularly as NGOs offered themselves as subcontractors for the provision of essential services at home and abroad. Western governments placed pressure on NGOs to carry out neomanagerial reforms that would promote cultural synergies with their own overseas aid departments, now reorganised according to the business
neutrality adopted in the Geneva Convention. It is, therefore, a remarkable early experience of the involvement of a national society of the Red Cross movement in a civil war. 6 As suggested by Rebecca Gill, the history of humanitarianism and of the Red Cross is complex and needs to ‘take account of intricate blends of motivation and ideals’ of ‘those claiming to be “doing good”’. 7 Intersections between the Order of St John of Jerusalem and the international Red Cross Movement and, more generally, war humanitarianism, have not yet been sufficiently studied. This
left returned whenever possible to their country and community. In the genocidal context of settler colonialism, then, humanitarianism had become profoundly paradoxical. At times it seems inaccurate to describe the men I have discussed as humanitarians at all, so readily did many of them – the governors and figures like Moore, Clark and Cowan – see effective punishment as essential for colonisation and