Author’s abstract: “As an anthropologist who had spent decades living in communities in the Middle East, I was uncomfortable with disjunction between the lives and experiences of Muslim women I had known and the popular media representations I encountered in the Western public sphere, the politically motivated justifications for military intervention on behalf of Muslim women that became common sense, and even the well-meaning humanitarian and rights work intended to relieve global women’s suffering.”
Alfred, Gerald (Taiaiake). Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2005.
Alfred, a Mohawk scholar in Canada, argues that traditional lifeways must be revitalized among First Nations people in order for them to articulate and implement an effective political strategy in resistance to settler states. He explains that religious regeneration will provide an ethical grounding and counter practice to the authoritarian forms of power utilized by the settler state.
Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (Harper Collins Press, 2003).
This immensely readable monograph chronicles not only the Armenian Genocide and the humanitarian crises that took place at the turn of last century and well into the 1930s, but also the coordinated international humanitarian movement for Armenia. In the study of America’s rise into global politics, reveals to the Christian and Evangelical underpinnings of much of this activity.
Michael Barnett and Janice Gross Stein, edited volume, Sacred Aid: Faith and Humanitarianism (Oxford: 2012)
Publisher’s Abstract: The global humanitarian movement, which originated within Western religious organizations in the early nineteenth century, has been of most important forces in world politics in advancing both human rights and human welfare. While the religious groups that founded the movement originally focused on conversion, in time more secular concerns came to dominate. By the end of the nineteenth century, increasingly professionalized yet nominally religious organization shifted from reliance on the good book to the public health manual. Over the course of the twentieth century, the secularization of humanitarianism only increased, and by the 1970s the movement’s religious inspiration, generally speaking, was marginal to its agenda. However, beginning in the 1980s, religiously inspired humanitarian movements experienced a major revival, and today they are virtual equals of their secular brethren.
Melissa M. Brough, “‘Fair Vanity’: The Visual Culture of Humanitarianism in the Age of Commodity Activism” in Roopali Mukherjee and Sarah Banet-Weiser (New York University Press, 2012), pp. 174-194.
In her contribution to this exciting and necessary collection, Brough explores the production and use of media in the humanitarian sector through a study of Invisible Children. Her study sketches out the field of Western Humanitarianism and its construction of donors and receivers, with consideration of both Christian and neoliberal underpinnings of the endeavour.
E. Bornstein, “Militarized humanitarianism meets carceral feminism: the politics of sex, rights, and freedom in contemporary antitrafficking campaigns.” Signs 2010;36(1):45-72.
Abstract: “Over the past decade, abolitionist feminist and evangelical Christian activists have directed increasing attention toward the “traffic in women” as a dangerous manifestation of global gender inequalities. Despite renowned disagreements around the politics of sex and gender, these groups have come together to advocate for harsher penalties against traffickers, prostitutes’ customers, and nations deemed to be taking insufficient steps to stem the flow of trafficked women. In this essay, I argue that what has served to unite this coalition of “strange bedfellows” is not simply an underlying commitment to conservative ideals of sexuality, as previous commentators have offered, but an equally significant commitment to carceral paradigms of justice and to militarized humanitarianism as the preeminent mode of engagement by the state. I draw upon my ongoing ethnographic research with feminist and evangelical antitrafficking movement leaders to argue that the alliance that has been so efficacious in framing contemporary antitrafficking politics is the product of two historically unique and intersecting trends: a rightward shift on the part of many mainstream feminists and other secular liberals away from a redistributive model of justice and toward a politics of incarceration, coincident with a leftward sweep on the part of many younger evangelicals toward a globally oriented social justice theology. In the final section of this essay, I consider the resilience of these trends given a newly installed and more progressive Obama administration, positing that they are likely to continue even as the terrain of militarized humanitarian action shifts in accordance with new sets of geopolitical interests.”
Abstract: “The disastrous earthquake in Haiti taught humanitarian groups an unexpected lesson: the power of mobile devices to coordinate, inform, and guide relief efforts. At TEDxRC2, Paul Conneally shows extraordinary examples of social media and other new technologies becoming central to humanitarian aid. (Filmed at TEDxRC2.)
Paul Conneally is the public communications manager for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and a leader in using digital technologies for humanitarian aid.”