Author: Jill Campbell-Miller (Page 1 of 2)

CNHH Presents: Essential Reads in the History of Humanitarianism

Top 5 Reads on the History of Development

~ as recommended by Jill Campbell-Miller, October 2023 ~

When I started looking into the history of Canadian foreign aid some fifteen years ago or so, not much scholarship existed about the history of development and foreign aid. As a student of Canadian foreign assistance, I was fortunate to have David Morrison’s Aid and Ebb Tide: A History of CIDA and Canadian Development Assistance. From a global perspective, the book most often referenced at the time was the late Gilbert Rist’s History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith. Though the book is undoubtedly a valuable piece of scholarship, the late Dr. Rist was not a historian, and the book was too broad and too thinly sourced to be comparable to the type of historical scholarship I sought.

Since that time, the landscape has changed dramatically. While I struggled to put together five works of professional history on this subject in the late oughts, today, I struggle to narrow down the choices to just five. I might have felt alone starting my PhD, but little did I know there were many scholars with similar interests working on major projects. While it came late for my historiography chapter, maybe it is not too late for someone else’s PhD dissertation. Here are five to get you started:

  1. Stephen J. Macekura and Erez Manela. The Development Century: A Global History. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Fifteen years ago, I would have been amazed and delighted to find an edited collection of historical essays all covering histories of development. This collection is divided into four thematic groups that examine the origins of development, development in a decolonizing world, Cold War politics, and development and international society. It has a nice balance of geographies, topics, and temporal scopes, and is a good introduction to many of the key areas of study for historians of development. I have a particular soft spot for histories of development that locate the very early origins of the development project, and co-editor Manela’s chapter on “Smallpox and the Globalization of Development” is a great example of this.

  1. Matthew Connelly. Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population. Harvard University Press, 2010.

While perhaps not a “history of development” proper, this book is an absolute must for understanding the development movement of the twentieth century. So many of the aid programs that developed in the 1950s and 1960s were based around the idea of controlling the world’s population, and so many of the prominent figures within important global institutions believed in a gospel of population control. Understanding this history is a crucial part of understanding the whole landscape of development in the mid-to-late twentieth century, and Connelly is not only a good historian, he is also an excellent story-teller.

  1. Sarah Lorenzini. Global Development: A Cold War History. Princeton University Press, 2019.

Odd Arne Westad refreshed the field of Cold War history by forcing his readers to see the rest of the world within a history that had been so often framed by American-Soviet politics in The Global Cold War (2005). Helpful as it was, as a reader in the 2000s, I also hoped for a book that would flesh out the way that development programming played into Cold War politics. Lorenzini’s book has finally brought these two fields together into one comprehensive volume. Arguing that development was “molded by the Cold War and, in turn, actively designed some of its structures” (4), Lorenzini’s book covers a huge terrain – from the colonial precedents of the interwar years to the major projects of American and Soviet aid, to those trying to challenge the bipolar constraints of the Cold War through development.

  1. Corinna R. Unger. International Development: A Postwar History. Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.

Unger’s book is the type of textbook I craved as a student. It covers the vocabulary and terminology central to development history, the important philosophical and colonial precedents to the post-war development movement, the major programs of the twentieth century, and the critiques and challenges the development movement faced in the late twentieth century and beyond. Unger’s book is a solid first place to start for anyone interested in this field, and despite the breadth of its subject matter, it is quite concise.

  1. Kevin O’Sullivan. The NGO Moment: The Globalisation of Compassion from Biafra to Live Aid. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

I will finish with a book from one of the CNHH’s very own, Kevin O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan’s book is a much-needed bird’s-eye view on one of the most important driving forces of development in the latter years of the twentieth century – development and humanitarian non-governmental organizations. Past books on developmental NGOs have typically had an agenda – either as hagiographies or as take-downs – but O’Sullivan’s book is a critical yet nuanced look at the history of these important organizations within the geopolitical context of the larger development movement. Focusing on three states, Britain, Canada, and Ireland, O’Sullivan examines the “‘progressive, interventionist model of compassion that privileged aid over political solidarity with the Third World.” By taking a transnational perspective, O’Sullivan is able to emphasize the global linkages between many different NGOs, and the ideologies that linked them together. Also, there are just a lot of fascinating stories in this book.

Dr. Jill Campbell-Miller is a historian who specializes in twentieth-century Canadian political and social history. Her interests particularly focus on Canadian foreign assistance and humanitarianism in South Asia during the mid-twentieth century. Her dissertation, which she is currently revising to become a manuscript, examines the history of Canadian foreign aid in India during the 1950s. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Gorsebrook Research Institute at Saint Mary’s University, and in the Department of History at Carleton University, and presently works as a civil servant with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She is co-editor, with Greg Donaghy and Stacey Barker, of Breaking Barriers, Shaping Worlds: Canadian Women and the Search for Global Order (UBC Press, 2021). 

Agenda – AGM June 4, 2021

  1. Introductions
  • CHA Panel:
  1. 2021 – update
    1. 2022 planning
  • Updates on CNHH projects
  1. Report from ongoing MITACS projects (Anna, Helen, Elizabeth)
    1. David Webster
    1. Archival Rescue
    1. Teaching…Recipro, upcoming courses, and other projects.
  • News from overseas partners
  • Future projects:
    • NGO partners
    • Funding
    • Training
  • Housekeeping:
    • Website overhaul
    • Governance update
    • Membership update and potential new members
  • New Business

Launch of Recipro Teaching Website

Inéz Petrazzini, research assistant and a student in International Development at the University of Ottawa, talked about Recipro at the Shared Online Projects Initiative (SOPI) Showcase Event on April 29, 2021. The celebration was hosted by Dr. Aline Germain-Rutherford, Vice-Provost, Academic Affairs, University of Ottawa and Dr. David Hornsby, Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning, Carleton University. Developed by an inter-university partnership that includes the participation of students in courses in History and Sociology, the Recipro website project focuses on the history of international solidarity and centres on the convergence of pedagogy, science, and digital humanities.

You can watch the video here:

Inéz Petrazzini is a third-year student completing an honours bachelor’s degree in International Development and Globalization (CO-OP) at the University of Ottawa. She worked as a Research and Teacher’s Assistant and Webmaster on the Recipro team. Her responsibilities included guiding students with their digital projects, building, developing, and updating the Omeka website, creating and contributing content for the Recipro project, as well as cataloguing, translating, and migrating content provided by the mentioned professors onto Omeka. Some of her interests include global politics, sustainable development projects, digital humanities, visual arts, and music.

The original video describing the Recipro Project can be found on the Recipro website and on their About Us page.

David Webster Launches Challenge the Strong Wind: Canada and East Timor, 1975-99 with UBC Press

You can find the video for this talk at the link below:

In 1975, Indonesian forces overran East Timor, just days after it had declared independence from Portugal. Canadian officials knew the invasion was coming and initially endorsed Indonesian rule. The ensuing occupation of the Southeast Asian country lasted twenty-four years.

Challenge the Strong Wind recounts the evolution of Canadian government policy toward East Timor from 1975 to its 1999 independence vote. During this time, Canadian civil society groups and NGOs worked in support of Timorese independence activists by promoting an alternative Canadian foreign policy that focused on self-determination and human rights. After following the lead of pro-Indonesian allies in the 1970s and ’80s, by the 1990s Ottawa had yielded to pressure from these NGOs and began to make its own decisions, eventually pushing like-minded countries to join it in supporting Timorese self-rule.

David Webster draws on previously untapped archival sources to articulate both government and non-government perceptions of the crisis. Human rights, competing nationalist claims, and peacemaking – key twentieth-century themes – intersect in East Timor, and the conflict provides a model of multilevel dialogue, citizen diplomacy, and novel approaches to resolving complex disputes. Ultimately, Webster criticizes the Canadian government for complicity in a near genocide, demonstrating that a clear-eyed view of international history must include non-state perspectives.

This sharply drawn work will be required reading for scholars studying Canadian history, foreign policy, international relations, human rights, Southeast Asia, and social activism.

Purchase Challenge the Strong Wind from UBC Press.

Dr. Sarah Glassford and Women in the Red Cross during World War II

Rob Blanchard Photo UNB

In this interview with Dr. Samantha Cutrara, Dr. Glassford talks about a letter sent home from London in 1943 to demonstrate how prominent emotional labour and creating networks of home was for many women in the Red Cross. We talk about gender, and gendered expectations of care and service during the war, and how women’s experiences and expectations may have grated against these.  This interview discusses the use of primary sources, women and WWII, and largely about emotions and caring through the lens of the Canadian Red Cross’ overseas humanitarian work.

Note: This conversation was recorded early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The audio podcast can be found here.

Buy Making the Best of It here:

More about Sarah: Sarah Glassford is a social historian and an archivist in the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor. She is the author of Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross, and co-editor of A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War.

Learn more about Dr. Samantha Cutrara at

Order Transforming the Canadian History Classroom: Imagining a New ‘We’:

The Trouble with Canadian Aid: Reflecting on International Development Week

Held in mid-February 2021, this webinar was sponsored by the CNHH featuring five academics coming together from different aspects of Canadian foreign policy and aid relations: David Webster (Bishop’s University), Jill Campbell-Miller (Carleton University), Nassisse Solomon (Western University), April Ingham (Pacific People’s Partnership), Dru Oja Jay (co-author Paved with Good Intentions), and moderated by Bianca Mugyenyi (Canadian Foreign Policy Institute).

Due to Facebook policy regarding embedded video, please follow the link below rather than the Play Video button.

1919: A Revolution in Children’s Rights by Dr. Dominique Marshall

1919: A Revolution in Children’s Rights 

This talk was delivered by Dr. Dominique Marshall on 15 October 2019 at the Ottawa Art Gallery, sponsored by the Ottawa Historical Association.  This page is cross-posted with the Ottawa Historical Association website.

In 1924, the main employee of the Belgian based “Association internationale de protection de l’enfance”, moved to Geneva, as part of the agreement concluded by her employer with the League of Nations (LON). As one of the handful of members of the Social Question Section of the Secretariat of the LON, a position she occupied for 17 years, she travelled to international conferences, maintained an abundant correspondence, and supported the work of three successive directors of the Section. The papers she left in the archives of the LON reveal a network of Catholic charities, social workers and civil servants, as well as a group of French speaking reformers, who offered alternative notions of universal children rights, during debates otherwise dominated by Britain and the United States. The talk speaks of the many tensions behind the apparent simplicity of the first universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, such as the nature of childhood in colonial territories, the very definition of childhood, the roles of states, churches and professions, the desirability of institutions and of foster families, and the political role of children.

Dominique Marshall is professor of History at Carleton University. She researches the history of childhood, families, human rights and humanitarian aid. She is a member of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History, the Carleton University Disability Research Group, the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network and Gendered Design in STEAM for LMICs.

“Learning from Development/Development from Learning: Aid and Education, 1945-1975”

CNHH Sponsored Panel – Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, June 5, 2019, University of British Columbia

Education – defined broadly – was at the heart of notions, discourses, and practices of international development efforts in the mid-twentieth century. Learning from Development/Development from Learning:Aid and Education, 1945-1975 proposes to engage with this idea at multiple registers, across diverse time periods, and in the non-governmental, governmental, and intergovernmental settings. In so doing, it explores how Canadians were implicated in a diverse array of efforts to impart the knowledge of ‘development’, the way in which such knowledge was constructed, and the structures of power it thus reflected and reified. It also explores how Canadian involvement in the global development phenomenon led to a feedback of lessons that shaped how Canadians, their communities and their institutions related to the Global South.

To this end, Jill Campbell-Miller focuses on the life and career path of individual women in order to uncover the role Canadians and Canadian organizations played in developing medical institutions in India. Building on this discussion, David Meren explores the origins and evolution of a UN Regional Training Centre launched in the late 1950s at UBC, a collaboration between that university, the UN, and the Canadian government, and how efforts to train individuals from the Global South meant to carry home the knowledge obtained from their time in the Pacific Northwest were interwoven with settler colonialism. Finally, Kevin Brushett explores ‘Ten Days for World Development’, a program the Interchurch Consultative Committee for Development and Relief for development education launched in 1973 with a view to raising awareness of development and social justice issues among Canadian communities, and that evolved into a network for development education programs with which Canada and Canadian NGOs became strongly – though not uncomplicatedly – associated.

Thank you to CNHH member David Meren for organizing this year’s panel.

00.00: Introduction by Chair, David Webster, Associate Professor, Bishop’s University

04:00: Jill Campbell-Miller, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History, Carleton University, “A Mission for Modernity: Canadians and Medical Education in India, 1946-1966”

27:00: David Meren, Professeur agrégé, Départment d’histoire, Université de Montréal, “The Pedagogy of ‘Development’: Settler Colonialism and the Origins, Life and Demise of the United Nations Regional Training Centre for Technical Assistance at UBC”

57:15: Kevin Brushett, Associate Professor, Department of History, Royal Military College of Canada, “On Ten Days to Shake the World: NGOs, the State, and the Politics of Development Education”

1:22:45: Question period

*Please note – some of the questions are difficult to hear in this section of the audio, and you may have to adjust your volume appropriately.

Histories of Humanitarianism and (Visual) Media, CNHH Panel at the CHA, University of Regina

The Canadian Network on Humanitarian History sponsored a panel at the Canadian Historical Association in Regina on May 29th, 2018 on “Histories of Humanitarianism and (Visual) Media.” Four presentations explored the complicated ways in which media, particularly visual media, challenged, described, and elicited humanitarian interventions in the 20th century. On the whole, the panel asked the audience to think about the important role that media has played in histories of humanitarianism globally, and the complexities inherent in the use of media as a tool in humanitarian contexts.

Histories of Humanitarianism and (Visual) Media | Histoires de l’humanitaire et les médias (visuels)

Panel introduction by Chair, Stephanie Bangarth (Western University), 0:09

Sonya de Laat (McMaster University): “Visual Displacement of
Refugees: Lewis Hine’s First World War Photographs for the American
Red Cross, 1918-1919,” 3:08

Valérie Gorin (University of Geneva): “Humanitarian Cinema and
Visual Advocacy in the 1920s: When Seeing was Believing,” 14:50

Soenke Kundel (Free University of Berlin/Germany): “Global Media and
the New Humanitarianism in the Context of the Vietnam War,” 29:40

Dominique Marshall (Carleton University) “ ‘CIDA Brings you
the World! ‘Children’s Reception of Humanitarian Photographs
of Children: 1980-2000,” 40:35

Panel Chair Stephanie Bangarth poses prepared questions to the panel, 54:15

The panel is opened to questions from the audience, 1:16:40. Be advised that these questions may be difficult to hear given the audience’s position to the microphone. You may be required to increase the audio’s volume to hear this portion.

Sponsored by the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History
| Parrainée par le Réseau canadien sur l’histoire de

Catherine LeGrand’s Workshop on Catholic Missions and Humanitarianism

Dr. Catherine LeGrand, second from left, speaking on “Canadian Church Groups in Latin America and Civil Society Organizations” during the workshop, “Canada’s Past and Future in the Americas,” 27-28 March 2017. Photo by Julia Van Drie.

On 28 March 2017, McGill University’s historian of Latin America, Dr. Catherine LeGrand, met with students and faculty of Carleton University to discuss Catholic Missions, Liberation Theology, and Humanitarianism in participation with the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History.  The audio of this workshop may be found here.  Details of this event can be found on the CNHH website.

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