The second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy(GHRA) has started with one week of academic training at the University of Exeter before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva. On this occasion the GHRA is very pleased to welcome Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel and Prof. Richard Overy as two distinguished guest lecturers on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.
In the morning session Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel, the former Head of the ICRC Archives and former special advisor to the previous ICRC president, will speak on ICRC work and policies in 1966-1975.
In the afternoon session Prof. Richard Overy, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the British Academy as well as Professor of History at the University of Exeter, will give the guest lecture To Bomb or Not to Bomb: Morality, Expediency and Necessity in the British Wartime Experience.
We are all very much looking forward to these two presentations and the following discussion!
On the occasion of the Second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA),which will start next Sunday at the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter, we are happy to announce that our common project of an “Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights” is now online.
The Online Atlas provides readers with concise analytical information on key concepts, events, and people which shaped the development of modern humanitarianism and human rights. The entries of the Online Atlas are written by the successive generations of fellows of the GHRA and other experts connected to the Research Academy.
The entries describe particular historical moment as well as its consequences and wider meanings. Additional materials include a review of scholarly debates, further reading, and visual representations. The Online Atlas addresses a broader public. It is a valuable resource for those engaged in the field of humanitarian action and human rights as well as students and academics. It provides a reliable source of information and access to essential issues of the entangled world of humanitarianism across borders and historical epochs.
In ten days the second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy(GHRA) will meet for one week of academic training at the University of Exeter before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.
The GHRAreceived again a huge amount of applications from an extremely talented group of scholars from more than sixteen different countries around the world. The selection committee considered each proposal very carefully and has selected these participants for the GHRA 2016:
Fabian Klose, Review of: Alexis Heraclides / Ada Dialla, Humanitarian intervention in the long nineteenth century. Setting the precedent, Series: Humanitarianism. Key debates and new approaches, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2015, 253 pp., ISBN 978 0 7190 8990 9, $ 110.
The issue of humanitarian intervention – the use of force to prevent and to end gross violations of humanitarian norms – is usually associated with the last decade of the twentieth century and described as a recent phenomenon emerging mainly after the end of the Cold War. However, over the last few years an intriguing discussion about the historical origins and the emergence of the concept has evolved. Recent studies provide first significant steps towards a genuine history of humanitarian intervention and convincingly sketch the genealogy of the concept’s long history, reaching back to the 18th and 19th centuries. With very few exceptions, most of these books focus on the European interventions to protect Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire during the long 19th century and present these case studies as pivotal for the evolution of the concept . In their new book “Humanitarian intervention in the long nineteenth century. Setting the precedent”, published in Manchester University Press’s new series on “Humanitarianism”, Alexis Heraclides, Professor of International Relations at the Panteion University in Athens, and Ada Dialla, Assistant Professor of European History at the Athens School of Fine Arts, largely follow this track. Their choice of case studies also include the already well-studied interventions of the Great Powers in the Greek war of independence (1821–32), in Lebanon and Syria (1860–61) as well as the so-called “Bulgarian atrocities” during the Balkan crisis of 1875–78. Only the very brief chapter on the US intervention in the Cuban war of independence in 1898 adds an additional case not related to the Ottoman Empire.
Shtadlanut (intercession) is generally perceived as a Jewish political practice or as Jewish diplomacy. It was often closely connected with “righteous” and charitable activities (tzedakah) within the Jewish community. Whereas the Jewish welfare system and charitable activities were already highly developed in the medieval times, shtadlanut had its first heydays in the early modern period. In Western and Central Europe wealthy Jewish court factors and in Eastern European communities the shtadlan (Jewish representative) became integral parts of the Jewish communal and inter-communal structures. During the 19th and early 20th century, both shtadlanut and tzedakah changed fundamentally. While Jews were offered emancipation, which demanded certain degrees of inclusion, acculturation and sometimes even assimilation, Jewish intercession and solidarity seemed to remain important due to an incomplete integration and increasing anti-Semitism.
Thus, the workshop took a fresh look at the traditional understanding of shtadlanut and tzedakah and examined how both ideas and practices were interrelated and changed over time. Consequently, the workshop addressed the following questions: How did Jews represent and negotiate their interests and “otherness” in different societies? Why and how could they receive special cultural, economic, and legal status from the early modern period up to the 20th century? How influential were the concept and practice of tzedakah in Jewish political traditions? And finally, how have intercession and welfare been adapted in the course of the modern era?
The keynote of NOAM ZOHAR (Bar Ilan) opened the workshop at the newly renovated Museum Judengasse in Frankfurt am Main. In his lecture, Zohar discussed selected passages from the Talmud, Midrashim, and also rabbinical responsa from the Middle Ages, and traced back Jewish political thinking to the beginning of the Jewish diaspora. His inter-textual approach revealed a long durée perspective on the subject of a Jewish political tradition that included perceptions and ideas of authority and membership but also morals of charity and welfare.
In March 2014 Oliver Dörr (Osnabrück), Marc Frey (Munich), and Jörn Axel Kämmerer (Hamburg) organized the Hamburg Symposium on Colonialism and International Law at the Bucerius Law School. Some of papers of the conference have now been published as articles in the new issue of the Journal of the history of International Law.
My own article deals with the topic of Human Rights for and against Empire – Legal and Public Discourses in the Age of Decolonisation (JHIL, Vol. 18, 2016, p. 317-338). Against the background of an ongoing debate about the role of human rights in the age of decolonization this essay approaches the issue from two different angles. It concentrates on the paradoxical situation that anti-colonial movements as well as colonial powers instrumentalized international human rights documents such as the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the European Conventions on Human Rights for achieving their political goals. In combining legal and public discourses in a significant way both sides accused each other of gross human rights violations while at the same time presenting themselves as respecting and even guaranteeing fundamental human rights. Especially during the course of the wars of decolonization after 1945 this phenomena became obvious in various diplomatic debates at the United Nations and made universal rights a diplomatic pawn in international debates.
Dr James Crossland
Senior Lecturer in International History, Liverpool John Moores University UK J.N.Crossland@ljmu.ac.uk
This conference acknowledges the growing number of historians and researchers working in the rapidly expanding area of the history of the international Red Cross Movement. With its origins in the mid-nineteenth century, this global humanitarian organisation includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) originally formed in Geneva in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) created in 1919, as well as the 189 (at last count) national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
The convenors seek to bring together scholars and those interested in the Red Cross Movement from around the world to explore a number of themes that related to the historical development of this large, multifaceted, complex organisation.
This conference will discuss the relationship between gender and humanitarian discourse and practice in the twentieth century. Although the history of humanitarianism has recently attracted attention from scholars working in a variety of fields, surprisingly little has been said about the workings of gender in this globalizing enterprise. To fill this gap, this interdisciplinary conference will analyze the ways in which constructions and ideologies of gender shaped and were shaped by humanitarian practices, interactions, ideas, and bodies. We invite innovative contributions from historians, anthropologists, social scientists and from the humanities discussing twentieth-century humanitarian actors (organizations, movements, and individual activists), discourses and practices in the context of gender. The conference particularly emphasizes the time between the First World War and the end of the Cold War, with a special focus on the (re)production of humanitarian structures, organizations and orders in both post-war periods and in the context of heightened colonialism and decolonization. It thus concentrates on a period that not only witnessed a great expansion of humanitarian action worldwide but also saw fundamental changes in gender relations and the gradual emergence of gender-sensitive policies in humanitarian organizations in many Western and non-Western settings.
Intersections and Transformations in the Early Modern and Modern Period
April 10–12, 2016
Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG), Mainz,
and Museum Judengasse, Frankfurt a.M.
Shtadlanut (intercession) is generally perceived as a Jewish political practice, or as Jewish diplomacy. It was often closely connected with “righteous” and charitable activities (tzedakah) within the Jewish community. Both practices changed fundamentally during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Jews were offered emancipation and, as a result, faced issues of inclusion, acculturation, and assimilation. In this context, the shtadlanim (advocates) of the Jewish minority were confronted with the incomplete integration as well as increasing anti-Semitism, which appear to have reinforced the necessity of Jewish intercession and solidarity.
The workshop takes a new look at the concepts of shtadlanut and tzedakah, in order to identify how they are interrelated and how these interrelations have changed over time. Key questions of the workshop are: How did Jews represent and negotiate their interests and “otherness” in different societies? Why and how could they receive special status in cultural, economic, and legal systems from the early modern period up to the 20th century? How influential were the concept and practice of tzedakah in Jewish political traditions? How have intercession and welfare been adapted in the course of the modern era?
Katharina Stornig, Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte, Mainz: Review of Fehrenbach, Heide; Rodogno, Davide (Hrsg.): Humanitarian Photography. A History. Cambridge 2015.
Although the history of humanitarianism has recently attracted great attention from historians and social scientists, surprisingly little work has so far been done on its visual dimensions. Yet there can be no doubt that images, visual technologies, and media practices were fundamental to the emergence and formation of a global humanitarian enterprise since the nineteenth century. The volume “Humanitarian Photography,” edited by Heide Fehrenbach and Davide Rodogno, thus constitutes an important and most welcome contribution to a flourishing field of research. Focusing on the mobilization of photography by humanitarian activists and organizations in the twentieth century, the volume gives compelling insights into the transnational production, reproduction, use, and function of photographs in various contexts of humanitarian activism. Pointing to the key role that photography played in the development of humanitarianism, it introduces a range of people, groups and organizations that conceived of photographs as essential means in order to aid far-off people, to raise funds or to create awareness of human suffering. Fehrenbach and Rodogno insist on the need to study humanitarian photography in a historical perspective. Consequently, their volume, which follows an interdisciplinary approach and consists of both new texts and reprints of important articles in the field, presents a chronology, according to which humanitarian photography emerged out of transnational missionary activity, expanded within various international organizations and eventually developed into a professional field that was ethically framed and regulated in the 1980s.
This interdisciplinary conference, organized by Fabian Klose (Mainz) and Mirjam Thulin (Mainz) on behalf of the members of IEG research group “Coping with Difference – Concepts of Humanity and Humanitarian Practices”, was held at the Leibniz Institute of European History (Mainz) from 8 to 10 October 2015. Prioritizing a comparative approach and focusing on the intersection of religious studies, international law and philosophy as well as on the history of humanitarianism and human rights, this conference set out to analyse the varieties and shifting meanings of the term “humanity” within the European context as well as in the context of Europe’s relations to other world regions. Keeping religious, colonial, social and gender aspects of the issue in mind, theologians and historians discussed the topic of “humanity” by focusing on such key issues as morality and human dignity, violence and international law, philanthropy, charity and solidarity.
The conference opened with a keynote lecture in which FRANCISCO BETHENCOURT (London) offered a historical review of principal aspects and categories of the division of humankind supposedly based on ethnicity, religion, gender, wealth and social status. He marked economic and political interests as the key motivations behind discriminatory actions and put an emphasis on ideological justifications of those distinctions. Questioning the universality of these divisions, he highlighted power relations as the basis of the categories and divisions, most of which displayed unstable patterns changed or recreated over time.
The first panel of the conference, dealing with morality and human dignity in early modern concepts, opened with MIHAI-D. GRIGORE’s (Mainz) presentation. Grigore concentrated on a transition in early modern political anthropology from humanitas Christiana, which viewed humanity as depending on an external or transcendental factor, i.e. God or the Church, to humanitas politica, which understood humanity as being inherent to every human being. Grigore traced this transition in the writings of Erasmus, which emphasises human nature as the property of individuals, not the Church, and a mutual goodwill intensified by education. MARIANO DELGADO (Fribourg) then presented his paper on the reflections of Spanish Catholic thinkers about the “nature” of American Indians in the 16th century. After outlining the dual genealogy of these thinkers’ ideas – the humanistic, enlightened thread stemming from the Stoa, considering the human race as one family, on the one side and Christian theology stressing man in the image of God on the other – Delgado presented two very different Christian thinkers, Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, showing how Sepúlveda justified European expansion in the Americas with the Indians’ supposed inferiority, and how Las Casas fought for the recognition of the Indians’ status as human beings. Delgado’s contribution was a reminder both of the variety of Christian thinking in the early modern period and of the strength of humanistic ideas even before the Enlightenment.
Public figures as diverse as Victor Basch, René Cassin, Emile Durkheim, Albert Einstein, Emile Kahn, Caroline Rémy de Guebhard (Séverine), or Kurt Tucholsky had one thing in common: they were all committed members of a human rights league. Taking as a starting point a research project on “Civil Society and the Austrian League for Human Rights”, a research group headed by Professor Wolfgang Schmale at the Department of History, University of Vienna, is now investigating the history of various human rights leagues whose formation was inspired by the Ligue pour la Défénse des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen. The foundation of this French organization in 1898 signalizes a new phase in the history of civil society and its institutions, as a considerable number of individuals, mainly in Europe, followed the French example and formed national human rights leagues in their respective countries. They joined forces in establishing an international umbrella organization, the Ligue Internationale des Droits de l’Homme resp. Fédération Internationale des (Ligues des) Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), launched in 1922 in Paris.
In May 2014, the research group organized an international workshop on the history of these human rights leagues at the University of Vienna. The main focus was on the interwar period. However, as some leagues were founded only after World War II or even decades later, some contributions were also dealing with the history of these newer leagues. In several panels countries such as Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, and the FIDH were covered.
I would like to draw your attention to the new anthology in German on Christianity and Human Rights in Europe, edited by three renowned reasearchers in the field of Eastern Christianity, Vasilios N. Makrides, Jennifer Wasmuth, and Stefan Kube.
The starting point of the contributions in this volume is the important official statement of the Russian Orthodox Church on Human Rights in 2008. Most chapters are considering aspects related to this issue, but there are also important studies on subjects regarding the position of other European Churches and denominations toward Human Rights, for instance the Romanian Orthodox (the second largest Orthodox Church in the world), the Catholic, and the Lutheran Churches.
Among the contributors are Alfons Brüning, Ingeborg Gabriel, Vasilios N. Makrides, Kristina Stoeckl, Hans G. Ulrich, important theologians, historians or religious scholars in the field of modern European religious history.
I wrote the chapter on the position of the Romanian-Orthodox Church towards human rights (“Positionen zu den Menschenrechten in der Rumänischen Orthodoxie”). This essay is an extension of a previous contribution on this blog and arises from the general observation that there is no common and uniform Orthodox Christian position towards human rights. I argue that, contrary to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church adopts a less systematic and programmatic strategy on human rights. Its stance is characterised by pragmatism with punctual finality depending on different contexts and themes, starting with bioethics and ending with problems regarding abuses against minorities and migrants. The main doctrinal and argumentative patterns of these two Orthodox Churches are further underpinned, on the one hand by the official document of the Russian Church on human rights of 2008, and on the other hand by various statements of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Church.
An audiovisual treasure chest containing thousands of ICRC photos, films/videos and audio recordings documenting the ICRC past and present is now opened to public.
Thisnew online platform, aimed at anyone curious to find out more about the audiovisual history of this 153 years humanitarian institution’s history, will give the public direct access to an amazing material illustrating the ICRC activities and operations from the end of the nineteenth century till the present day.
The new platform, which is available in English and French, contains more than 93,000 digitized and downloadable photos, around 1,700 films and videos and over 1000 audio recordings. Although some foreseen digital versions of videos are not attached yet to the online records, their integration is ongoing.
The portal really is a study in simplicity: Say, for example, you want to look at photos of ICRC activities in Ethiopia. Just a couple of clicks will take you to a database of some 900 photos dating back to 1935. You can search by year, country/region, keyword and person. There are even Red Cross radio programs to listen to and a selection of films dating back to 1921.
The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights is starting a new master of advanced studies on transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law, which will start in September 2016. The Faculty comprises leading scholars in the field of transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law – such as William Schabas, Rama Mani, Christof Heyns, etc. One of the special features of the programme is a concern to link academic teaching and research with practical work and professionalizing activities. The programme offers students access to work experience in leading international agencies dedicated to transitional justice, human rights and rule of law concerns. The programme adopts a highly personalized approach to teaching and academic life by providing individualized guidance and one-to-one counseling for students, namely via personalized academic mentoring, career coaching and the coordination of internships.
For further Information visit the website: