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Locating the Humanitarian Impulse: Questions of Scale and Space II [Anthropology of Humanitarianism Network]
Tess Altman (University of Southampton)
Ekatherina Zhukova (Lund University)
Nell Gabiam (Iowa State University)
Elzbieta Drazkiewicz (Maynooth University)
Carna Brkovic (University of Goettingen)
Network affiliated Panels
Wednesday 22 July, 14:00-16:00 (UTC+1)

Short abstract:

This panel considers how global, national, and local scales and public and private spaces impact upon manifestations of the humanitarian impulse. Do particular scales and spaces affect the extent to which humanitarian actors feel a sense of belonging and responsibility to respond?

Long abstract:

Ethnographic research into the impulse to help suffering "others" has gained traction over the past decade, responding to Malkki's (2015) call to attend to "humanitarian subjects" (those who help) as closely as we do to the recipients of help. Such investigations have political importance in a time of hostile migration policies and public displays of xenophobia, hinting at potentially solidaristic moral sentiments. However, scholars have also critiqued the "dark side" of humanitarian efforts as a form of governance, at both institutional (Fassin 2012) and personal (Braun 2017) levels. This panel follows a recent line of enquiry into how humanitarian expression is affected by scale. Brković (2017) has termed this "vernacular humanitarianism"— everyday modes of helping influenced by specific social and cultural norms and practices. We extend this observation to consider how different scales (i.e., global, national, local) and spaces (i.e., public and private) impact upon the humanitarian impulse. In particular, do scale and space affect the extent to which humanitarian actors feel a sense of belonging or responsibility? Contributions may address, but are not limited to:

· The effect of scales, (e.g., global, national, regional, local) on humanitarian action.

· The impact of space, (e.g., private, public, domestic, professional) on humanitarian relations.

· The role of proximity and distance in inciting feelings of obligation, belonging or responsibility.

· Interactions between modes of helping at/in different scales/spaces (e.g., local and international volunteers/NGOs).

· The impact of scale and space on recipients of humanitarianism.