Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights

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 on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights is jointly published by the Leibniz Institute of European History and the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter as part of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA). It is hosted by the Leibniz Institute of European History.

 

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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.

The projected started in December 2015 with some 10 entries and will grow the number of entries successively over the years. Ultimately the Online Atlas is planned to cover about 50 key locations in Africa, America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights is jointly published by the Leibniz Institute of European History and the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter as part of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA).

The Editors

Fabian Klose, Marc Palen, Johannes Paulmann, Andrew Thompson

Conference Report on the Workshop „Jewish Diplomacy and Welfare“

International Workshop

Jewish Diplomacy and Welfare: Intersections and Transformations

in the Early Modern and Modern Period 

April 10–12, 2016

Venue: 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. 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.

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Conference Announcement “Histories of the Red Cross Movement: Continuity & Change”, 9-11 September, 2016, Adelaide, Australia

Conference Convenors:

Professor Melanie Oppenheimer
Professor of History, Flinders University
melanie.oppenheimer@flinders.edu.au

Professor Neville Wylie
Professor of International Political History, University of Nottingham, UK
neville.wylie@nottingham.ac.uk

Dr Christine Winter ARC Future Fellow
University of Sydney, Australia
christine.winter@sydney.edu.au

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.

More information can be found here: http://redcrosshistoryconference.com.au/

Call for Papers: International Conference “Gender & Humanitarianism”, IEG Mainz, 29 June – 1 July 2017

CfP Conference

“Gender & Humanitarianism. (Dis-)Empowering Women and Men in the Twentieth Century”

IEG Mainz, June 29 – July 1, 2017

Conveners: Esther Möller, Johannes Paulmann, Katharina Stornig

© ICRC / hist-02753-24a 1© ICRC / hist-02753-24a 1

© Imperial War Museum London / hist-0021 1

© Imperial War Museum London / hist-0021 1

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.

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The History of European Human Rights Leagues

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.[1] Taking as a starting point a research project on “Civil Society and the Austrian League for Human Rights”,[2] 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.

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New Book by Antonio de Lauri (ed.): The Politics of Humanitarianism: Power, Ideology and Aid

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Despite its idealistic origins and rhetoric, humanitarianism has increasingly been seen as becoming economic enterprise and a political tool for controlling territories and governing international relations. But one has to ask how positions within the spectrum of humanitarian action are influenced by different epistemologies and applications of international law. What is the complex relationship between values and practice? What is humanitarian action intended to be and what happens on the ground?

In his edited volume, Antonio de Lauri has gathered authors from a variety of disciplines to provide a comprehensive critique of the humanitarian enterprise. Combining international case studies with critical theoretical evaluations, and including chapters on international aid, refugees, childhood and women’s rights, Antonio de Lauri’s edited book offers a critical analysis of the contemporary humanitarian system.

 

de Lauri The Politics of Humanitarianism

 

Antonio de Lauri, Ph.D., is assistant professor of anthropology and cultures and societies of the Middle East at the University of Milano-Bicocca. Among others, he was awarded fellowships at the Colombia University in New York and at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin (as Rechtskulturen fellow of Humboldt University and the Institute for Advanced Studies). Antonio de Lauri’s specializing fields are in legal anthropology and Afghan studies.

The book is: Antonio de Lauri (ed.), The Politics of Humanitarianism: Power, Ideology and Aid, London: I.B.Tauris 2016.

New Report on Red Cross Fundamental Principles: A critical historical perspective

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CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / L. Lehongre

For more than half a century, the Fundamental Principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality have underpinned the global humanitarian work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. But how have these principles evolved since their codification in 1965, and to what extent have they been adapted for modern day conflict and emergency contexts? Are certain principles more ‘valuable’ than others, and what can the successes, failures and controversies of the past teach us about the future of humanitarian work?

These are just some of the thought-provoking questions raised in a new report: Connecting with the Past: The Fundamental Principles in Critical Historical Perspective. The report, a collaboration between the ICRC, University of Exeter and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, reflects the debates and key points raised by eminent academics, historians and humanitarians who attended a symposium at ICRC headquarters in Geneva in September, 2015. The event and related report, examine five significant periods of history, starting with the founding of the Red Cross in 1865 and ending with the post 9/11 era and the many unprecedented and complex humanitarian challenges that have arisen throughout.

New Publication: Robert Brier’s Inspiring Article on the Recent Historiography on Human Rights

JEH2015Robert Brier’s inspiring article Beyond the Quest for a “Breakthrough”: Reflections on the Recent Historiography on Human Rights has been published in the European History Yearbook 2015 and is available in open access.

Abstract: Human rights have become a central object of international and global history, with research focusing on the question where the origins of the central position of human rights language in our own time lie. The aim of this article is to take stock of this debate and discuss possible future avenues of research. The existing literature has shown, the article argues, that the 1970s were a crucial time for the rise of human rights, but it also warns against declaring this decade or any other time the definite breakthrough for human rights. Underlining how human rights have always been influenced by their past, discussing how tenuous the international position of human rights remains well into our own time and exposing different meanings human rights acquired historically, the article concludes that the identification of multiple chronologies of post-war human rights history and a focus on the great variety of human rights vernaculars provide more promising avenues along which to push this project ahead than the quest for an elusive human rights breakthrough.

Dr. Robert Brier is LSE Fellow in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Humanitarian Ethics – Berlin Colloquium on Contemporary History

From Rights to Favour? Didier Fassin on the ‘Moral Economy of Asylum in Contemporary Society’

Some notes by Johannes Paulmann (IEG, Mainz)

“Refugees Welcome” – Portraits of refugees and volunteers as part of a rally, 3rd Oct. 2015, Vienna, Mariahilferstraße, photo: © Bwag/Commons, CCBY-SA-4.0

The anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin (Princeton) opened the 21st Berlin Colloquium on Contemporary History at the Einstein Forum, Potsdam, on 3 December 2015. In his public lecture Fassin analysed the recent shift in representing individual refugees and the legitimacy of their claims – a shift, as he explained, from a right to asylum to granting asylum as a favour. How are we to explain the accompanying changes in recognition rates and in the manner of accepting refugees?

Fassin sees the convergent logics of two developments at play. On the one side, the political economy regarding immigration changed during the 1970s. Until then workers from abroad were invited and welcomed into an expanding west European economy. With the onset of economic crisis and the slowing down of growth, immigrants were regarded as superfluous in the labour market. However, this perspective is not a sufficient explanation. It took also, on the other side, a change in terms of moral economy, the logic of which shifted from a matter of compassion and admiration for those persecuted to suspicion and hostility towards immigrants during the 1990s when the Cold War ended, the control of borders within the EU was abolished, far right movements rose, and the social integration of refugees or migrants became a matter of public debate.

Fassin adapts here historian E.P. Thompson’s idea of the ‘moral economy’ but neither regards it as a code particular to a group, such as rural workers during the industrial revolution, nor understands it as something long lasting and stable. He rather uses the notion of a moral economy to describe the production, circulation and appropriation of values and affects within the realm of specific problems, in his case migrants wishing to enter a country. The moral economy regarding ‘refugees’ has changed several times during the period since the Second World War. While I would disagree with the historical periodization of the affects and the way Fassin links them to particular groups, for example concentration camp survivors, Latin American resistance fighters or civil war refugees from the former Yugoslavia, the elements he detects certainly were central to the evolving moral economy: commiseration, respect, admiration, compassion, and mistrust.

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Humanitarianism in Historical Perspective

Workshop at the European University Institute, Florence
Report by Johannes Paulmann (IEG, Mainz)

Florenz 2015_21

The workshop participants at the terrace of Villa Schifanoia (from left to right): Alexandra Pfeiff, Simon Stevens, Fabian Klose, Johannes Paulmann, Emily Baughan, Semih Çelik, and Dirk Moses.

On 25th November 2015, scholars met at the EUI to discuss recent research on the history of humanitarianism. Dirk Moses (EUI), who convened the workshop, opened the day with remarks on the controversial nature of humanitarianism. What for some is a heroic movement that ended the slave trade is for others the rhetorical handmaiden of the European empires that partitioned Africa in the name of ending slavery and introducing civilization in the late nineteenth century. New research is historicizing these impressions, debates, and associated notions of humanity, humanitarian aid, humanitarian intervention, human rights and genocide prevention.

Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz) started the proceedings with a paper on ‘The Humanitarian Narrative in Context: From Mission and Empire to Cold War and Decolonization’. Adapting Didier Fassin’s notion of ‘humanitarian reason’, he discussed the changing rhetoric and visual means which are employed to form a bond between those who are suffering and those who care to help. While contemporary scholarly critique of crisis relief questions the narrative which leads readers and spectators to assume that ameliorative action is possible, effective and therefore morally required, the ‘emergency imaginary’ (Craig Calhoun) has made responding to disasters by quickly delivering assistance worldwide one of the modalities of globalization carrying moral imperatives for immediate actions. Presenting two historical examples, with a focus on bodily images, Paulmann then analysed the display of mutilations during the Congo reform campaign in the context of missionaries’ drive for saving souls around 1900 and concluded with a documentary film on a West German civilian hospital ship during the Vietnam War. These images were embedded in a narrative of Red Cross neutral humanitarian action and the ambiguous attempts to keep one’s distance to bodily harm, the politics of war, and later also towards refugees. Late 1970s humanitarian reason appeared strikingly similar made up with regard to the politics of solidarity and inequality we presently witness in Europe.

Humanitarian military intervention was the topic Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz) presented under the title ‘Enforcing Humanity: A Genealogy of Humanitarian Intervention’. He explored the history of intervention which, in contrast to claims by political scientist, reaches back to the early nineteenth century when a key transition unfolded from the protection of specific co-religious groups to protection ‘in the name of humanity’. Based on extensive archival research, he highlighted the centrality of the suppression of slave-trading for establishing the practice of humanitarian intervention before its inclusion in the body of international law towards the end of the nineteenth century. This has not been fully acknowledged in recent research. Klose also emphasized that the interventionist discourse was not a human rights discourse. ‘In the name of humanity’, at the time did not imply universal individual rights or even less so equality. Humanity as a legal norm to be enforced by states was limited to the notion of a common humanity which was open to numerous differentiations, categorizations, and hierarchies.

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“Refugees are Human” – Humanitarian Narratives and Strategies

In a recent conference held at the Leibniz Institute of European History international scholars discussed in an interdisciplinary dialogue the history of European concepts of humanity in practice. However, as matter of fact the relationship between concepts and practices of humanity is not only one of historical research, but is also most relevant in our days. Confronted with the tremendous humanitarian crisis of hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men trying to escape from disaster, war, and persecution – many of them drowning and dying on their perilous journeys to the alleged safe haven of Europe – voices are loudly raised appealing to common humanity and demanding appropriate action by the international community.

Syrian_refugees_strike_at_the_platform_of_Budapest_Keleti_railway_station__Refugee_crisis__Budapest,_Hungary,_Central_Europe,_4_September_2015__(3)

Syrian refugees strike at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway Station, 4 September 2015, Picture by Mstyslav Chernov CC BY-SA 4.0

Horrified by the loss of thousands of lives in the Mediterranean Sea and on the concrete occasion of the appalling discovery of 71 dead refugees asphyxiated inside an abandoned lorry nearby the Austrian-Hungarian border the UN Secretary-General Baan Ki-Moon launched an urgent appeal on 28 August 2015: “A large majority of people undertaking these arduous and dangerous journeys are refugees fleeing from places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. International law has stipulated – and states have long recognized – the right of refuges to protection and asylum. When considering asylum requests, States cannot make distinctions based on religion or other identity – nor can they force people to return to places from which they have fled if there is a well-founded fear of persecution or attack. This is not a matter of international law; it is also our duty as human beings. […] I appeal to all governments involved to provide comprehensive responses, expand safe and legal channels of migration and act with humanity, compassion and in accordance with their international obligations.”[1]

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New publication: SOS Biafra

This new publication may be of interest to readers of this blog: SOS Biafra by Dominik Matter is an analysis of Swiss foreign relations in the context of the Nigerian civil war (1967–1970).  «SOS Biafra» was the International Committee of the Red Cross’s appeal to the public, in May 1968, to support the relief mission in the secessionist area, which was completely isolated. Besides such public appeals, it were images of starving children that temporarily brought the war and the impending humanitarian crisis in Nigeria to the public attention in the West.

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Swiss authorities faced numerous political challenges related to Biafra: the ICRC mission, the Bührle affair, the so-called “Biafra propaganda” by the Geneva Markpress agency, or the petition for the recognition of Biafra all indicate the complexity of the subject. On the basis of this constellation, Dominik Matter traces the interaction between government and non-government agents in the development of Swiss foreign relations in the context of the Nigerian civil war.

The open-access book is published as volume 5 of Quaderni di Dodis, a publication series of the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland (DDS) research center.

Further information and download: dodis.ch/q5

Michael Geyer’s GHRA Lecture on IEG YouTube

On the occasion of the first Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) Prof. Dr. Michael Geyer (University of Chicago) was invited as guest lecturer and gave an intriguing talk on “Humanitarianism, Humanitarian Law, and Human Rights. A Difficult Relationship”

In order to enable a broader public audience to listen and to watch Michael Geyer’s perceptive lecture on a highly relevant topic, we decided to put it on the new IEG YouTube channel. Enjoy watching Michael Geyer’s talk!

There will more videos coming up soon at IEG YouTube, so keep following it!

Additionally, please note that the Call for Application for the GHRA 2016 will be soon published here on hhr!

Fabian Klose        Johannes Paulmann      Andrew Thompson

CfP: Empire and Humanitarianism, 13 and 14 June 2016, University of Exeter

Cross-posted from:

http://imperialandglobal.exeter.ac.uk/2015/07/cfp-empire-and-humanitarianism-13-and-14-june-2016/

Following the success of the Network’s first conference in June 2014, we’re delighted to announce details of our second conference, which will take place at the University of Exeter in June 2016. The next conference will be on the theme of ‘Empire and Humanitarianism’ and the call for papers can be found below. As with our first conference, we’re particularly keen to have submissions from PhD students and early career researchers but proposals from more established historians are welcome too. A selection of papers from the first conference are scheduled to appear in the Journal of World History later this year and we anticipate that our second conference will result in a special issue or edited collection.

The ‘global turn’ has invigorated the study of humanitarianism, development and human rights. Within the context of Imperial history, historians have pointed to the complex and often contradictory relationship between humanitarianism and empire. Although humanitarianism emerged in response to the worst excesses of imperialism, such as the slave trade and the atrocities associated with the Boer War, it was nonetheless shaped by the ‘moral and political frameworks of empire’.[1] In other words, empire and humanitarianism were not necessarily incompatible and could in fact be mutually reinforcing, whether this was through the paternal rhetoric of the ‘civilising mission’ or the development of international regulatory agencies during the inter-war period. Although these discourses and mechanisms were often more concerned with consolidating the authority of the imperial powers than they were in protecting the rights of colonial subject populations, humanitarianism could have emancipatory effects. As the legitimacy of empire came under increasing scrutiny after 1945, metropolitan activists shifted from abstract expressions of sympathy for colonial peoples to forms of participatory activism that involved the outright rejection of empire and the channelling of political and material support to nationalist movements For anti-colonial nationalists the emerging discourses associated with human rights, self-determination, and development provided a global context for their local struggles, enabling them to forge transnational links with other anti-colonial groups and providing the language and the means with which to undermine the moral authority of the imperial state.

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ICRC Report on the Effects of the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima 1945

Cross-posted from icrchistory

Rapport rédigé en octobre 1945 par Fritz Bilfinger, délégué du CICR au Japon à cette époque, concernant les effets du bombardement atomique sur la population d’Hiroshima.

This report on the effects of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima was written on October 1945 by Fritz Bilfinger, ICRC delegate in Japan

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