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

Report by Katharina Wolf, International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), University of Giessen

Cross-posted from <www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-7338>

While there is currently a lot of research on the history of Humanitarianism, its relationship with the analytical category of gender still lacks systematic exploration. The international conference “Gender & Humanitarianism: (Dis-)Empowering Women and Men in the Twentieth Century”, which was funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and held at the Leibniz Institute of European History (Mainz), was organized with the aim of filling this gap in research. It explored how gender shaped and was shaped by humanitarian discourses and practices in the period between the First World War and the end of the Cold War. The conference papers discussed this relationship by emphasizing historiographical issues relating to processes of inclusion and exclusion, adopting multiple transnational perspectives. Integrating humanitarian organizations and actors from across the whole globe, the papers presented had multiple geographical focuses on the Middle East, on India, on Western Europe, as well as on Central and South America.

After a brief introduction to the topic by JOHANNES PAULMANN (Mainz), KATHARINA STORNIG (Giessen) and ESTHER MÖLLER (Mainz), the first panel, dealing with masculinities and femininities in humanitarian discourse and practice, started with two papers discussing the roles of women as relief workers in moments of historical crisis. Focusing on the context of the Armenian genocide and the displacements of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, INGER MARIE OKKENHAUG (Volda) inquired into the interaction between Scandinavian female health care professionals of the Danish and Norwegian Women’s Mission Organization, on the one hand, and female Armenian refugees and relief workers, on the other, between 1925 and 1935 in what is today Lebanon and Syria. She highlighted different forms of cooperation involving close connections and interactions between Armenian and Scandinavian women, while especially stressing the role of religion in the encounter between Lutherans and Armenians. Okkenhaug also discussed the relief workers’ perception of their roles as women and their interaction with male refugees or co-workers.

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Natalie Klein-Kelly, DOT TO DOT: Exploring humanitarian activities in the early Nineteenth Century

Natalie Klein-Kelly, Fellow of the GHRA 2017

DOT TO DOT: Exploring humanitarian activities in the early Nineteenth Century through tracing prehistories of the Red Cross Movement in Geneva

Histories of humanitarianism often cite two specific examples of nineteenth century humanitarianism: the latter parts of slave abolition movements and the founding of the Red Cross in Geneva in 1863. Besides these, particularly for the early part of the century, specific examples of humanitarian activities remain rare, with general references to philanthropic as well as social and religious reform movements prevailing. I would like to argue here that this is because humanitarian endeavours in the early Nineteenth Century in Europe and North America developed in local contexts, making it difficult and cumbersome to join the various ʿdotsʾ of humanitarian activities that existed. By linking such ʿdotsʾ – like doing children’s ʿdot to dotʾ drawing, hence the title of this blog post – a more precise picture of early humanitarianism might emerge. This blog post will demonstrate the benefits of such an approach though two concrete examples: the connections between the founding of the Red Cross Movement and an early foreign aid movement 40 years earlier, both in the locality of Geneva.

The first ʿgroup of dotsʾ concerns the philhellenic activities undertaken by private Geneva citizens in the course of the 1820s in support of the Greeks in their War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. To be precise, two different Geneva Greek Committees were set up, the first active in 1822-1823, and a second founded in 1825 and active until the Battle of Navarino in October 1827. The leading force in the latter Committee was the wealthy Geneva citizen, Jean-Gabriel Eynard (1772-1863), who had been to the Vienna Congress a few years earlier. He was joined by 26 others, including the writers and politicians J.C.L. Simonde de Sismondi (1773-1842) and Etienne Dumont (1759-1829). This second Committee used the donations collected in Geneva and elsewhere to send shiploads of food and ammunition to support the fighting Greeks. These shipments were accompanied by representatives of the Committee, including the doctor, Louis-André Gosse (1801-1873). To stress, the label ‘humanitarian’ only partly fits these foreign aid undertakings, particularly given the military support and the parallel developmental focus that can be found.

The second ʿdotsʾ is better known: the 1863 founding of the Red Cross Movement initiated by five Geneva citizens including Henri Dunant (1828-1910), Gustav Moynier (1826-1910), General Guillaume-Henri Dufour (1787-1875), and Dr Louis Appia (1818-1889). Having witnessed the suffering of wounded soldiers in the battle of Solferino in 1859, the Geneva businessman Dunant published a pamphlet calling for international action to ensure care and protection of wounded soldiers and their helpers. The young Geneva lawyer Moynier, an acquaintance of Dunant, took this idea to the Geneva Society for Public Utility, whose president at this time was Dufour. Here, a sub-committee to implement Dunant’s ideas was formed, leading to the first international conference held in Geneva in 1863.

While nearly 40 years apart, these two ʿgroups of dotsʾ have specific links. An early type of photograph exists of the two key protagonists, Eynard and Dunant, dating from the early 1850s.

Jean-Gabriel Eynard in the middle and Henry Dunant at the left, Bibliotheque de Geneve.

Eynard was an early enthusiast of daguerreotypes, taking a few hundred in the 1840s and 1850s, generally of his extended family. Dunant was a friend of Ernest de Traz (1830-1900), also on this daguerreotype, a great-nephew of Eynard. De Traz and Dunant commenced religious meetings of young men in the late 1840s, leading to the formation of the “Union Chrétienne des Jeunes Gens de Geneva” in the early 1850s. In addition, occasional correspondence between Dunant and Eynard’s wife, Anna Eynard Lullin (1793-1868) has survived, for example regarding her support for the 1863 Red Cross conference (BPU Ms 2109 f. 57, 179). Eynard’s son-in-law and nephew, Charles Eynard-Eynard (1808-1876) also corresponded with Dunant throughout the 1860s (ibid., f. 6, 288, 296 etc.). Charles Eynard appears to have been close to Dunant through their joint religious affiliation to the ‘Reveil’, the Geneva evangelist movement of the mid-century (BPU Ms fr 2115 H).

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“On site, in time”: Helsinki by Bernhard Gißibl

Regarding our new IEG open access publication “On site, in time” here is Bernhard Gißibl’s article on Helsinki, in which he focuses on the CSCE process.

Cross-posted from: http://en.ieg-differences.eu/on-site-in-time/bernhard-gissibl-helsinki/

Conference diplomacy and the CSCE process (constellations)

In the history of international conference diplomacy, Helsinki symbolizes détente, cooperation, and human rights during the Cold War. The reason for this is the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), whose Final Act was signed in Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall on August 1st, 1975 by the leaders of 33 European states, the USA, and Canada.

Helmut Schmidt, Erich Honecker, Gerald Ford and Bruno Kreisky at the CSCE Summit in 1975 in Helsinki, Finland.

This initiated a dialogue and negotiation process on confidence-building measures and principles between the blocs of the Cold War, which was designated the CSCE or “Helsinki process”. At the same time, the conference location signifies the role that neutral and non-aligned countries played as catalysts, facilitators and – in the case of Finland – as intermediaries of the security conference.

Cold War and détente in Europe (differences)

The CSCE conference had its roots in the superpowers’ efforts to ease tensions in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. By the early 1970s, conditions had changed: NATO had adopted a new strategy of easing tensions (“détente”), while the Federal Republic of Germany had concluded the Eastern treaties and recognized the GDR. In July 1973, the foreign ministers of all 33 European countries (with the exception Albania), as well as the USA and Canada, were able to begin with preliminary negotiations on security and cooperation in Europe.

It is noteworthy that the conference proceedings recognized the full equality of all participating countries – irrespective of their membership to the blocs or the hegemony of the USA and the USSR as superpowers. Moreover, the conference was conducted based on the principle of consensus: Unanimity was not required for any resolutions; it was sufficient if no significant objections were made.

Between July 1973 and July 1975, diplomats and experts worked out the text of the Final Act.[1] It contained a set of principles concerning intergovernmental behaviour. Along with sovereignty and the mutual non-interference of the states, the list included in particular “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”

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