Humanitarianism

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Abstract

What does humanitarian practice look like now? International relations scholars use the term ‘humanitarianism’ with specific reference to the 1864 Geneva Convention and the legal recognition of humanitarian principles in practice of war. Yet, beginning with the 1970s crisis in Biafra, humanitarianism has expanded in reach to include an assortment of nebulous interventions on behalf of an assumed shared humanity. “Humanitarianism” now signifies the effort to ‘do-good’, to express sympathy in response to distant suffering, whether this distance is actually geographical or social. Everyday humanitarian practices can now take place in many different realms: in consumption, entertainment, or across social media. These are all areas that are traditionally considered outside of the humanitarian scope, not least because of their association with market-driven and celebrity-oriented activity rather than altruism and anonymity. Such practices can change – in both conservative and critical ways – how we seek to help others, and how think of ourselves when doing so.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date15 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

I-PEEL takes objects and practices from everyday life as entry points to the study of International Political Economy (IPE). It is designed to allow users to follow their own interests, and provides unique perspectives on IPE from some of the leading scholars in the field. Just peel back a tile to find out more about who gets what in the global economy, why, and how might it be changed. An I-PEEL teaching guide is available for academics seeking to use the resource in the classroom.

Keywords

  • Humanitarianism
  • Brand aid
  • Celebrity
  • Social media
  • Satire
  • Development
  • North-south relations

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