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Brendan T. Lawson

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

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Cathrine Brun
Cindy Horst

most local and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continue ‘to operate as sub-contractors, with limited influence’ ( Obrecht et al. , 2022 : 226; see also Gòmez, 2021 ). The limited progress may be explained by the continued unwillingness of powerful humanitarian actors to formally include a more contextualised mode of humanitarian assistance, which is often understood to challenge humanitarianisms’ universality as reflected in the Humanitarian

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

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

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
Selective humanity in the Anglophone world

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.

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
Aboriginal slavery and white Australia
Amanda Nettelbeck

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

in Humanitarianism, empire and transnationalism, 1760–1995
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