Review of Johannes Paulmann (ed.) Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid in the Twentieth Century. London: Oxford University Press, 2016. 460 pp. £75 (hardback), ISBN: 9780198778974
Ben Holmes History Department, University of Exeter
Cross-posted from imperialglobalexeter.com
Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid in the Twentieth Century (2016), edited by Johannes Paulmann (Director of the Leibniz Institute of European History and Professor of Modern History at the University of Mainz), exemplifies the burgeoning field of the history of humanitarianism. In providing historical context to a sector that is often stuck in the ‘perpetual present’, the volume shares a common purpose with a fast-growing body of literature. Specifically, the volume examines 150 years of history to demonstrate that the technical and ethical crises central to modern humanitarianism – such as competition between aid organisations, the tendency of aid to ‘do more harm than good’, and the manipulation of aid by political actors – are not unique to the twenty first century. They have, in fact, ‘been inherent in humanitarian practice for more than a century’ .
Examining humanitarianism from the late nineteenth century to the present places this volume in similar territory to Michael Barnett’s Empire of Humanity (2011). Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid is based on a conference that took place in the same year that Barnett’s work was published. Nevertheless, the edited volume has responded to some of the historiographical criticisms aimed at Empire of Humanity. Firstly, to counter Barnett’s western-centric focus, the volume incorporates ‘the point of view of Europe and the West and of the Colonies and the Third World’ . Secondly, Paulmann seeks to challenge Barnett’s three chronological ‘Ages of Humanitarianism’ for being too rigid and for tending to ignore overlaps and ‘contingencies’ in the history of humanitarianism.
Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid structures its chapters according to four chronological periods: ‘Multiple Foundations of International Humanitarianism’ contains chapters on humanitarian aid from the nineteenth century to 1919; ‘Humanitarianism in the Shadow of Colonialism and World Wars’ spans the interwar years up to the end of the Second World War; ‘Humanitarianism at the Intersection of Cold War and Decolonization’ covers the period 1945 to 1990; and, ‘Dilemmas of Global Humanitarianism’ examines topics relating to modern-day humanitarianism. The boundaries between these chronological periods are not fixed, with several chapters highlighting, for example, how ideas and practices spanned the interwar and Cold War years.
Cross-posted from: hsozkult.de
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.
Cross-posted from http://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-24908
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.
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.
For more information on the volume visit the publisher’s Webpage.
Fabian Klose (ed.), The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention. Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, Cambridge 2016.
How should the international community react when a government transgresses humanitarian norms and violates the human rights of its own nationals? And where does the responsibility lie to protect people from such acts of violation? In this new volume scholars from various disciplines investigate some of the most complex and controversial debates regarding the legitimacy of protecting humanitarian norms and universal human rights by non-violent and violent means. Charting the development of humanitarian intervention from its origins in the nineteenth century through to the present day, the book surveys the philosophical and legal rationales of enforcing humanitarian norms by military means, and how attitudes to military intervention on humanitarian grounds have changed over the course of three centuries. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, the authors lend a fresh perspective to contemporary dilemmas using case studies from Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia.
Sandrine Mayoraz, Frithjof Benjamin Schenk, and Ueli Mäder have just published the volume Hundert Jahre Basler Friedenskongress (1912-2012). Die erhoffte „Verbrüderung der Völker”, Basel/Zürich 2015. The edited volume is the result of an international conference held at the University of Basel from November 22 to 24, 2012 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Basel International Socialist Peace Congress. The complete German volume with various contribution on the question of war and peace is now available online @:
In my own contribution „Frieden durch Krieg? Zur Janusköpfigkeit militärischer Interventionspraxis im langen 19. Jahrhundert“ (Peace by War? The Janus-faced character of Military Intervention in the long 19th Century) I am focusing on the practice of humanitarian intervention throughout the long 19th century. The essay examines the question whether humanitarian interventions were able to contribute to international peacekeeping or whether they were not in fact an instrument of imperial power, under the guise of humanitarianism. Its aim is to consider the Janus-faced character of humanitarian intervention and to examine the consequences of this for international relations.
You will find my essay @: http://sozarch7.uzh.ch/daten/Friedenskongress_Klose.pdf
Dieter Gosewinkel (ed.), Anti-liberal Europe. A Neglected Story of Europeanization, Berghahn, New York/Oxford 2015.
“The history of modern Europe is often presented with the hindsight of present-day European integration, which was a genuinely liberal project based on political and economic freedom. Many other visions for Europe developed in the 20th century, however, were based on an idea of community rooted in pre-modern religious ideas, cultural or ethnic homogeneity, or even in coercion and violence. They frequently rejected the idea of modernity or reinterpreted it in an antiliberal manner. Anti-liberal Europe examines these visions, including those of anti-modernist Catholics, conservatives, extreme rightists as well as communists, arguing that antiliberal concepts in 20th-century Europe were not the counterpart to, but instead part of the process of European integration.”
I would like to point to a new publication on the theory of global justice in the context of colonialism and post-colonial ethics: the main focus is on slavery. Enjoy reading!
Jay Winter, Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University, and Antoine Prost, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, have published their new book on René Cassin and Human Rights. From the Great War to the Universal Declaration, (originally published in French in 2011). Both authors are investigating the emergence of the international human rights regime through the lens of one of its supposed major protagonists. They focusing on the life of the prominent French jurist and diplomat René Cassin (1887-1976), who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968 for his renowned human rights commitment.
By examining the biography of this prominent figure Winter and Prost seek to show what human rights meant to a generation that experienced two World Wars and how these experiences shaped the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Approaching the history of human rights through the prism of an individual’s life both authors claim to add a “third approach” ( p. xix) to the existing literature: “This biography is a history of the struggle for human rights in a specific time and place. We offer a different chronology and a compromise between those who see human rights as advancing in a glacial manner in a cumulative or additive process of gains and losses, and those who see it in terms of truncated evolution, with a radical break at a specific point in time” (p. xix).
I have just published a review of the book in the American Historical Review, Vol. 119, No. 5, p. 1786-1787. If you are interested in reading it, you will find the complete review @:
The research program “Humanitarian Policy Group” at the British research institute ODI (Overseas Development Institute) in London has recently published the first results of its project on “The global history of humanitarian action”, focusing on the history of humanitarian action in the Middle East and North Africa.
This study, edited by Eleanor Davey and Eva Svoboda, offers interesting insights into both the still unexplored history of humanitarianism in the Arab World and its important links with urgent questions of the present time.
The publication can be found and downloaded at: http://www.odi.org/publications/8787-history-humanitarian-middle-east-mena-zakat-palestine-displacement-lebanon-yemen
In one of my earlier posts I have discussed the issue of human rights concerning the Romanian Orthodox Church. Today I would like to draw your attention on the new book of the Austrian political scientist and sociologist Kristina Stoeckl on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to human rights. “The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights” was recently published by Routledge.
I consider this book as a major contribution to the subject. The author is very well informed and approaches almost all the determining issues of the debate. Her discussion of the crucial pattern of modernization in the Eastern Churches (see my contribution), their relation to post secular globalized and plural world includes subtle analysis from the perspective of sociology, political sciences, politics, international law and even theology. The interdisciplinary approach opens a multitude of perspectives, but bears also some difficulties.
As she frankly acknowledges on page 130, Kristina Stoeckl is “a political scientist” and “has opted for a political-sociological analysis of the Russian Orthodox human rights debate”, but “as an outside observer [she has] not failed to notice the theological dynamic at play”. This is partially true, she notices indeed the theological dynamics, but misinterprets it. A religious scholar familiar with the theological and ecclesiological discourses within Eastern Christianity (the main issues when you have to speak about a ‘Church’) would criticize the lack of religious expertise. Therefor I would like to discuss following three aspects from a theological point of view: Continue reading
In the light of the ongoing political crisis concerning the Ukraine and Syria the issue of justifying military intervention is high on the agenda of international politics. Despite the recent intense political debate, the theoretical discussion about just and unjust military intervention is much older. It reaches back to the texts of classical European philosophers of the early modern period. Already thinkers such as Francisco Suarez, Alberico Gentili, Hugo Grotius and Emer de Vattel referred in their work to this crucial issue of international politics.
For that reason Stefano Recchia, Lecturer in International Relations at Cambridge University, and Jennifer M. Welsh, Professor of International Relations at the European University Institute, have recently published the interdisciplinary volume Just and Unjust Military Intervention. European Thinkers from Vitoria to Mill, Cambridge University Press 2013.
Additionally to my last post concerning the publication of my book “Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence. The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria” and the related research on “Human Rights and Decolonization” I would like to point to the important publication of Roland Burke, Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights, Philadelphia 2010 (http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14717.html). In his book Roland Burke, Lecturer at La Trobe University Melbourne, analyzes the changing impact of decolonization on the UN human rights program. In showing the crucial importance of Third World influence on the international human rights agenda he offers an inspiring new perspective. You will find my review of the book at:
In October 2010 “humanity” (editor: Sam Moyn, Columbia University, New York), a peer-reviewed academic journal, started to publish research and reflections on human rights, humanitarianism, and development in the modern and contemporary world. I strongly recommend the journal and the related blog, which you can find at: http://www.humanityjournal.org/blog
In the first issue of “humanity” Jan Eckel, historian at the University of Freiburg, wrote an essay review on Roland’s book and the German version of my book “Menschenrechte im Schatten kolonialer Gewalt” (https://www.oldenbourg-verlag.de/wissenschaftsverlag/menschenrechte-im-schatten-kolonialer-gewalt/9783486588842), in which he raised some interesting questions. On the journal’s blog Roland and I used the opportunity to respond to Jan’s essay review and we started a fruitful discussion on the topic of “human rights and decolonization”.
If you are interested in following the discussion you will find
I am happy to let you know that my book “Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence. The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria” has been recently published by The University of Pennsylvanian Press (for more details see: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15084.html).
My book, the English translation of my dissertation “Menschenrechte im Schatten kolonialer Gewalt” (originally published in German by Oldenbourg in 2009), analyzes the relationship between the emergence of human rights concepts after 1945 and the increasing radicalization of colonial violence. Based on previously inaccessible material from the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, this comparative study uses the Mau Mau War (1952–1956) and the Algerian War (1954–1962) as case studies to examine the policies of two major imperial powers, Britain and France. By analyzing the colonial states of emergency, counterinsurgency strategy, and the significance of humanitarian international law in both conflicts I show that the crimes on the part of Western powers that promoted human rights in other areas of the world were diametrically opposed to the growing global acceptance of freedom, equality, self-determination, and universal rights. In my book I want to demonstrate the mutually impacting histories of international human rights and decolonization.
I hope my book will find a broad international readership and I am looking forward to reactions and comments.