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Accepted Paper:

Helping the Wounded: Humanitarian Assistence as Religious Experience  
Alexander Horstmann (University of Bielefeld)

Paper short abstract:

This paper offer an in-depth ethnographic study of a evangelical humanitarian organization helping in the remote frontier areas of Myanmar in emergency health care, and expanding its operations to the Nuban mountains of Sudan and to the Kurdish region of Iraq and Syria.

Paper long abstract:

Building on ethnographic fieldwork on humanitarian cultures in Karen state, Eastern Myanmar since 2007-today, this paper examines the vastly expanded mobility of displaced Karen villagers in the evangelical humanitarian movement Free Burma Rangers in the Thai-Burmese borderlands. While refugees are too often presented in the literature as victims, the article argues that by joining the mission, the Karen freedom fighters become ambassadors of a political ideology and evangelism. Bringing Christianity with them from their displaced homes, displaced Karen meet the evangelical humanitarian organization in the Thai refugee camps, train with them and supply the villagers left behind with emergency health care and religious messages. Funded by American free churches, the US military and resettled Karen communities in the West, the freedom fighters of the Free Burma Rangers mobilize people and resources all over the globe and expand their operations to the Kurdish areas of Syria and the Nuban mountains of South Sudan, thus getting involved into a global struggle between the perceived good and the evil.

Panel P103
Religion and refugee: interdisciplinary discussion on humane-divine interactions
  Session 1 Tuesday 14 August, 2018, -