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This collection interrogates the representation of humanitarian crisis and catastrophe, and the refraction of humanitarian intervention and action, from the mid-twentieth century to the present, across a diverse range of media forms: traditional and contemporary screen media (film, television and online video) as well as newspapers, memoirs, music festivals and social media platforms (such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr). The book thus explores the historical, cultural and political contexts that have shaped the mediation of humanitarian relationships since the middle of the twentieth century. Together, the chapters illustrate the continuities and connections, as well as the differences, which have characterised the mediatisation of both states of emergency and acts of amelioration. The authors reveal and explore the significant synergies between the humanitarian enterprise, the endeavour to alleviate the suffering of particular groups, and media representations, and their modes of addressing and appealing to specific publics. The chapters consider the ways in which media texts, technologies and practices reflect and shape the shifting moral, political, ethical, rhetorical, ideological and material dimensions of international humanitarian emergency and intervention, and have become integral to the changing relationships between organisations, institutions, governments, individual actors and entire sectors.

Laura Suski

’ children by purchasing environmentally friendly products, or we might act against child labour practices in ‘distant’ nations by purchasing garments manufactured by particular companies. These practices raise several questions of a global humanitarianism for children. Can the intent to protect ‘our’ children extend to a more universalised impulse to protect ‘other’, more distant children? What are the limitations of

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Silvia Salvatici

army on 24 June 1859. It had been a particularly bloody battle, in which around 40,000 men were killed or seriously wounded; many of the latter died because of a lack of treatment. The evocative power of the blood spilled near the little northern Italian town is commonly associated with the birth of the Red Cross, and Solferino has become the symbolic place of the origins of international humanitarianism. It was here – after witnessing the harrowing spectacle of the wounded abandoned on the field – that Henry Dunant, from Geneva, had the idea of an organisation for

in A history of humanitarianism, 1755–1989
In the name of others

The book traces the history of international humanitarianism from the anti-slavery movement to the end of the Cold War. It is based on an extensive survey of the international literature and is retold in an original narrative that relies on a close examination of the sources. It explains how relief entered both the national and the supranational institutions' agenda, and the programmes of non-governmental organisations, contributing to shape the relationship between the global North and South. The reconstruction of humanitarianism’s long history unfolds around some crucial moments and events: the colonial expansion of European countries, the two World Wars and their aftermaths, the emergence of a new postcolonial order. Salvatici looks especially closely at the major actors of aid operations (such as the Red Cross, Save the Children, the United Nations agencies, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders) and highlights how the meaning of international humanitarianism has changed over time.

Silvia Salvatici

and women to join the missions spread over other continents corresponded to the emergence of a transnational network of philanthropic activity which developed in close interaction with the relief work carried out at home. This interaction is clear both if we look at the type of initiatives (and the ways in which they were carried out) ‘in the field’ and if we take into consideration the origins and set-up of the associations that were being founded to support the missionaries’ work. In the archaeology of international humanitarianism we therefore also have to

in A history of humanitarianism, 1755–1989
Silvia Salvatici

represented by feeling compassion for its victims, a contrast that was not, as we know, new in the question of humanitarianism. The setting up of UNRRA had its roots in the specific historic moment. The plan for the new international body had taken shape since the American relaunch of an internationalist policy that intended to build a juster, safer world after the tragedy of war, taking inspiration in part from Woodrow Wilson’s previous programme. In Roosevelt’s plan, though, the United States’ impetus for the definition of a new world order had also to include

in A history of humanitarianism, 1755–1989
Silvia Salvatici

torment end their stricken lives. 1 In these lines, Voltaire was describing the death and destruction brought by the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755. This dramatic episode was defined as the first modern natural disaster and is often cited as l’événement inaugural 2 of contemporary humanitarianism. 3 The reasons for the modernity of this event can be traced back to the reaction of the Portuguese monarchy, which considered the response to the emergency to be its own responsibility. This was the first occasion on which there had been an attempt

in A history of humanitarianism, 1755–1989
Open Access (free)
Governing Precarity through Adaptive Design
Mark Duffield

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 solidarity with its

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

. 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 opposition to

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Jenny Edkins

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

in Change and the politics of certainty