Intermediaries in humanitarian action: a questionable shortcut to the effective localisation of aid?

Over the last decade, international humanitarian agencies have endeavoured to develop effective ways to localise their practices of intervention in areas receiving forced migrants or stricken by conflict or disasters. ‘Localisation’ is an umbrella term referring to all approaches to working with local actors, and includes ‘locally-led’ projects which refers specifically to “work that originates …

The political potential of responsibility in domestic humanitarianism

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————————– Operation Sovereign Borders Even on a frozen winter’s night, the queue snaked around the corner. Taking seats in the Melbourne warehouse for the prospective volunteer information evening, the chatter died down as the charismatic CEO …

Anthropology of humanitarianism: between new vocabulary and critique

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————————– Emergent humanitarian forms of life Sixteen-year old Marija was a money-keeper during one humanitarian action organized in her high school in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In many former Yugoslav countries, the words …

The circular logic of humanitarian expertise

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————————– Experts, as paradigmatic figures of modernity (Mitchell 2002), occupy a central place in contemporary policy making. They embody the human drive for governing the world via the use of rational reason. The term finds its …

Of refugees and states: how vernacular humanitarianism draws together disparate scales of statecraft

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————————– “He [Pero] is a refugee person [izbegličko lice], we have to help him. Pero received a small flat consisting of a room, a kitchen and a small WC. An electric meter was installed in the …

The Taliban and the humanitarian soldier

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————————– 2001 is often considered a major historical turning point, marking a shift from a ‘before’ to an ‘after’ in modern history. Following the attacks of 9/11, and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan through the military …

Worker experiments in humanitarian politics

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ————————————————– Over the last decade and a half, labor politics in Bosnia-Herzegovina has become humanitarianized. By humanitarianize I mean the increasingly common deployment of moral sentiments in worker actions and political campaigns, particularly the “emotions that …

Interrogating asylum from containment to care: the penitential ethics of policing Haitian refugees

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ————————————————– Haiti provides fertile ground for excavating the foundations of the contemporary humanitarian regime in capitalism, imperialism, and racialism. Historical racial conceptions of Haiti and Haitians have deeply influenced contemporary policies and forms of assistance that …

The complexities of hope: writing about volunteering at Lesvos

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ————————————————– “We will bring you to safety” an American 23 year old woman tells an Afghan woman who lives with her children in Moria Camp. Moria Refugee camp, located on the Greek island of Lesvos, is …

Teaching the anthropology of humanitarianism

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————————– Since the 2000s anthropological studies of humanitarianism have multiplied, producing a multifaceted critique of humanitarian action. Humanitarianism, even Western humanitarianism which seems to attract most attention, has a long history. Yet, it seems that it …