The anthropology of humanitarianism: rethinking the role of the apolitical and private in humanitarian space

This post is part of a series linked to the workshop “Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique”. ————————————————– This essay briefly revisits the current critique of humanitarianism and discusses alternative approaches to public humanitarian space, to anthropologists-humanitarians, to political in humanitarianism, and to the anthropology of the suffering. I use the recuperation of …

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 …

‘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 …

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 …