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Humanitarianism and Suffering


  • Page extent: 330 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521883856)

Humanitarian sentiments have motivated a variety of manifestations of pity, from nineteenth-century movements to end slavery to the creation of modern international humanitarian law. While humanitarianism is clearly political, this text addresses the ways in which it is also an ethos embedded in civil society, one that drives secular and religious social and cultural movements, not just legal and political institutions. As an ethos, humanitarianism has a strong narrative and representational dimension that can generate humanitarian constituencies for particular causes. Essays in the volume analyze the character, form, and voice of private or public narratives themselves and explain how and why some narratives of suffering energize political movements of solidarity, whereas others do not. Humanitarianism and Suffering explores when, how, and why humanitarian movements become widespread popular movements. It shows how popular sentiments move political and social elites to action and, conversely, how national elites appropriate humanitarian ideals for more instrumental ends.

• Remarkable list of international contributors including Rony Brauman, David Forsythe, Elizabeth Jelin, Thomas Laqueur and Michael Marrus • Fascinating perspective of humanitarian practices and how humanitarian and human rights groups have generated empathy for those in distress • Variety of contributors from anthropology, history, sociology as well as varied occupations makes the book unique


Part I. Histories and Contexts: 1. Mourning, pity, and the work of narrative in the making of 'humanity' Thomas W. Laqueur; 2. Contemporary humanitarianism: the global and the local contemporary David P. Forsythe; 3. Humanitarian reading Joseph R. Slaughter; 4. Global media and the myths of humanitarian relief: the case of the 2004 tsunami Rony Brauman; 5. Hard struggles of doubt: abolitionists and the problem of slave redemption Margaret M. R. Kellow; 6. 'Starving Armenians': the politics and ideology of humanitarian aid in the first decades of the twentieth century Flora A. Keshgegian; 7. International bystanders to the Holocaust and humanitarian intervention Michael R. Marrus; Part II. Narratives and Redress: 8. Victims, relatives and citizens in Argentina: whose voice is legitimate enough? Elizabeth Jelin; 9. Children, suffering and the humanitarian appeal Laura Suski; 10. The physicality of legal consciousness: suffering and the production of credibility in refugee resettlement Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; 11. 'Can you describe this?': human rights reports and what they tell us about the human rights movement Ron Dudai; 12. Financial reparations, blood money, and human rights witness testimony: Morocco and Algeria Susan Slymovics; 13. Remnants and remains: narratives of suffering in post-genocide Rwanda's Gacaca courts Lars Waldorf.


'… a very timely volume that should appeal to a wide range of anthropologists.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


Thomas W. Laqueur, David P. Forsythe, Joseph R. Slaughter, Rony Brauman, Margaret M. R. Kellow, Flora A. Keshgegian, Michael R. Marrus, Elizabeth Jelin, Laura Suski, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Ron Dudai, Susan Slymovics, Lars Waldorf

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