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 …

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 …

Assessing the Anthropology of Humanitarianism: Ethnography, Impact, Critique

What is the aim of an anthropology of humanitarianism? How is anthropology addressing the growing convergence of policing and aid? To what extent does the humanitarian imperative to save lives influence the work of the ethnographer in the field? What is the relationship between moral anthropology and humanitarian ethics? In this workshop, we will address these …

Teaching humanitarianism in Lebanon, Turkey, and Italy

In an attempt to reflect on some lectures I have delivered on humanitarianism in Lebanese, Turkish, and Italian universities over the last three years, I would like to advance a few reflections on the “public afterlife” of my experience of teaching, the language I used in those classes, and the response I received from different …