Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Humanitarianism in the Modern World

Humanitarianism in the Modern World
The Moral Economy of Famine Relief


  • Publication planned for: September 2020
  • availability: Not yet published - available from September 2020
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108493529

$ 99.99

Pre-order Add to wishlist

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available for inspection. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an inspection copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This is an innovative new history of famine relief and humanitarianism. The authors apply a moral economy approach to shed new light on the forces and ideas that motivated and shaped humanitarian aid during the Great Irish Famine, the famine of 1921-1922 in Soviet Russia and the Ukraine, and the 1980s Ethiopian famine. They place these episodes within a distinctive periodisation of humanitarianism which emphasises the correlations with politico-economic regimes: the time of elitist laissez-faire liberalism in the nineteenth century as one of ad hoc humanitarianism; that of Taylorism and mass society from c.1900-1970 as one of organised humanitarianism; and the blend of individualised post-material lifestyles and neoliberal public management since 1970 as one of expressive humanitarianism. The book as a whole shifts the focus of the history of humanitarianism from the imperatives of crisis management to the pragmatic mechanisms of fundraising, relief efforts on the ground, and finance.

    • Provides innovative narratives of how humanitarianism has developed over the past two centuries
    • Takes a fresh look at humanitarian action by applying a reframed moral economy approach that focuses on aid appeals, the allocation of relief, and aid accounts
    • Presents three case studies of famine relief in different periods, geographical locations, and political circumstances: the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, the famine in Soviet Russia in 1921–3, and the famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This thoughtful history of humanitarianism links three case studies, all involving original research, to an analytical-historical framework for understanding famine relief, whereby the ad hoc efforts of the nineteenth century gave way in turn to more bureaucratized relief (c. 1900-1970) and the more aggressive, media-driven humanitarianism of the present. Well-written and clever, it should attract a broad readership, including policy-makers and civil society activists.' Cormac Ó Gráda, author of Famine: A Short History and co-editor of Famine in European History

    'This book is an exciting departure in the history of humanitarianism. Its main innovation is in the authors' use of moral economy to explore in detail the triage and prioritisation famine relief work entailed. Stimulating and rewarding in turn, this book challenges our perception of how the history of aid can be written.' Bertrand Taithe, co-author of The Charity Market and Humanitarianism in Britain, 1870-1912

    'Anyone interested to learn more about aid appeals for humanitarian disasters will not be disappointed by this rich account created by Götz, Brewis and Werther. Covering three of the world's most impactful humanitarian disasters, the author's provide a wealth of information full of relevant learnings for scholars, but also philanthropy professionals working on aid appeals for current humanitarian disasters.' Pamala Wiepking, editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Publication planned for: September 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108493529
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • availability: Not yet published - available from September 2020
  • Table of Contents

    List of Tables
    List of Figures
    List of Abbreviations
    1. Famine Relief in Perspective
    1.1 Social Origins of Famine
    1.2 The Moral Economy of Aid
    2. Case Studies
    2.1 Three Ages of Humanitarianism
    2.2 The Great Irish Famine and Ad Hoc Humanitarianism
    2.3 The Russian Famine of 1921–3 and Organised Humanitarianism
    2.4 Famine in Ethiopia 1984–6 and Expressive Humanitarianism
    3. Appeals
    3.1 The Humanitarian Appeal
    3.2 Empire, Faith, and Kinship – Ireland
    3.3 Altruism, Self-Interest, and Solidarity – Soviet Russia
    3.4 Television, Shame, and Global Humanity – Ethiopia
    3.5 Arousing Compassion: A Long View on Calls for Famine Relief
    4. Allocation
    4.1 Allocating Gifts
    4.2 Fostering Local Efforts – Ireland
    4.3 Live and Let Die – Soviet Russia
    4.4 Relief, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement – Ethiopia
    4.5 Targeting Aid: Realities on the Ground across Two Centuries
    5. Accounting
    5.1 Humanitarian Accountability
    5.2 Figures, Narratives, and Omissions – Ireland
    5.3 The Power of Numbers – Soviet Russia
    5.4 More than 'Dollars' and 'Per Cent' – Ethiopia
    5.5 Keeping the Record: A Bicentennial Perspective
    Conclusion: The Moral Economy of Humanitarianism
    List of References

  • Resources for

    Humanitarianism in the Modern World

    Norbert Götz, Georgina Brewis, Steffen Werther

    General Resources

    Find resources associated with this title

    Type Name Unlocked * Format Size

    Showing of

    Back to top

    This title is supported by one or more locked resources. Access to locked resources is granted exclusively by Cambridge University Press to lecturers whose faculty status has been verified. To gain access to locked resources, lecturers should sign in to or register for a Cambridge user account.

    Please use locked resources responsibly and exercise your professional discretion when choosing how you share these materials with your students. Other lecturers may wish to use locked resources for assessment purposes and their usefulness is undermined when the source files (for example, solution manuals or test banks) are shared online or via social networks.

    Supplementary resources are subject to copyright. Lecturers are permitted to view, print or download these resources for use in their teaching, but may not change them or use them for commercial gain.

    If you are having problems accessing these resources please contact

  • Authors

    Norbert Götz, Södertörns Högskola, Sweden
    Norbert Götz is a Professor at the Institute of Contemporary History, Södertörn University, Sweden. He is the author of Deliberative Diplomacy (2011) and Ungleiche Geschwister (2001), for which he has been awarded with the Hans-Rosenberg-Memorial-Prize.

    Georgina Brewis, University College London
    Georgina Brewis is Associate Professor at University College London. Her previous publications include A Social History of Student Volunteering (2014), English Teachers in a Postwar Democracy (2014) and The World of UCL (2018).

    Steffen Werther, Södertörns Högskola, Sweden
    Steffen Werther is Associate Professor at the Institute of Contemporary History at Södertörn University. His publications include SS-Vision und Grenzland-Realität (2012).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.