The subjects and objects of relief: how local aid workers articulate and remake what it means to be humanitarian

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. “Allah will help the one who gives. If I have even one Birr [Ethiopian currency], I try to give it to him, the man in need. Most people do this. It is our culture. We share …

The duty of care: ‘reconfiguring’ humanitarian workers through risk relations

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————– Introduction  Humanitarian organizations are incrementally adopting sophisticated ‘risk management’ systems that cover not only security and safety, but also economic, legal, reputational and operational aspects. In protecting their staff from ‘risk’, organizations have shifted the focus …

Political visions of a humanitarian aid group in Karen (Kayin) state, Myanmar

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————– Religion is a privileged site through which to study how to make loss more bearable and re-constructed lives more comfortable (Johnson and Werbner 2010). Religion is intimately linked to involuntary mobility: it assists in crossing …

Navigating the blurred boundaries of aid. On the pitfalls of post-humanitarian encounters

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. —————————————— The critique of humanitarian aid is not a prerogative of academic scholars. Aid workers know too well the limitations, risks and threats of large-scale aid work; they have questioned in detail the efficiency and legitimacy …

An essay on the anthropology of humanitarian shame

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ———————————– Humanitarian pluralism What are the cultural and historical forces and the physical dynamics that shape contemporary human displacements in the Middle East and the humanitarian efforts that follow? In this essay, I want to focus …

Suggested by Public Anthropologist – Nightmarch

This month’s “everybody must read” book is Nightmarch. Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas by Alpa Shah. In this vibrant piece of anthropological work, Shah takes us into one of the most unreported rebellions in contemporary India with wisdom and courage. Her analysis of the motivations, modalities of implementation and failures of Naxalites’ struggle shapes a new history of both the exploitation they suffered and their fight for liberation. Written …

‘Southern’ and ‘Northern’ assistance provision beyond the grand narratives: Views from Lebanese and Syrian providers in Lebanon

Over the past few decades, scholars have increasingly employed the categories of ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ to explore different political geographies and economies in development cooperation and humanitarian aid provision. Without doubt, whether and how these denominations make sense are not merely dilemmas of terminology. The Global South has been historically referred to in a …

Suggested by Public Anthropologist – Searching for a Better Life

Searching for a Better Life. Growing Up in the Slums of Bangkok by Sorcha Mahony is an engaging but highly readable ethnography of youth in Thailand’s capital. What does searching for a better life mean for those struggling to get by in a rapidly developing and globalizing economy? How do they try to fulfil their dreams? And how …

Suggested by Public Anthropologist – A World of Babies

This month’s “everybody must read” book is A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Eight Societies, edited by Alma Gottlieb and Judy DeLoache. With a first edition published in 2000 and widely read, the almost entirely new, updated edition of A World of Babies confirms the authors capacity to merge ethnography and informed research with original and accessible writing. Simply put it, …

A View from Beyond the Ivory Tower: An Addendum to Elizabeth Dunn’s “The Problem with Assholes.”

I am a fourth generation academic. I am the daughter, niece, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of professors.  I left academia soon after I got my PhD, because I had neither the money nor the patience to keep playing the adjunct/visiting appointment/job market game.  I became a teacher.  So my fight is not your fight.  But by …