Dear colleagues of the CNHH, this will interest many of you.
All the best,
Dr. Susan Armstrong-Reid wrote the CNHH in their capacity as Chair of the AAHN Research Grants Committee to ensure that the Network is updated on recent changes to AAHN research grants available to scholars of nursing, healthcare and humanitarianism at all stages of their careers. As a scholar researching the ethics of humanitarian nursing, Dr. Armstrong-Reid is particularly interested in forging transnational links to provide a more sophisticated and critical understanding of the development of the humanitarian system and continuing transformation required to meet even basic human security. The challenges only continue to grow, taxing the humanitarian system well beyond its current capacity to respond.
There are now three awards: H-15 Grant (an early career research grant for scholars who hold a research doctorate granted within the last 8 years); H-21Grant (for mid-to-senior scholars with a publication record); and the H-31 Pre-Doctoral Research Grant.
Please note: the deadline for submissions has been changed to May 1, 2024, and successful candidates will now be notified on July 1, 2024. The committee hopes that this later due date works better within the academic year for both faculty and students.
Moreover, the guidelines for the pre-doctoral research grant were extensively revised to provide a clearer picture of what the committee expected to be included and the consequent steps students should take prior to submitting their proposals. It was the committee’s belief that the new guidelines might be beneficial for students applying for larger research grants. A more detailed description of the eligibility criteria for all three grants and the guidelines for submitting a proposal in 2024 are available at: https://www.aahn.org/research-grants.
As one of its goals for 2023-24, the committee determined to reach out to our international colleagues to encourage them and their students to consider applying for these grants. We believe it is important to bring fresh transnational perspective and innovative methodologies that span disciplines to foster a more sophisticated critical understanding of how nursing’s past shaped its future direction in healthcare. The committee welcomes proposals that span historical time periods and a diverse range of topics.
In addition, AAHN also provides opportunities to publish articles based upon larger research projects in Nursing History Review or present papers at its 2024 Convention to be held September 19-21, 2024, in Milwaukee.
All the best for 2023-24 academic year and in in your own important and very salient research endeavours.
Top 5 Reads on the Historical Role of Media in the Ethiopian Famine Crisis of 1984
~ As recommended by Jonathon Zimmer, January 2024 ~
When I first began working on my MA thesis at the University of Regina, it didn’t take long to realize the intricate connection between humanitarian aid mobilization and the portrayal of crises by the media. My MA research focused on the portrayal of the Ethiopian famine of 1984, one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the twentieth century, by television, newspaper, and magazine outlets in Canada. Fueled by news reports of a disaster impacting millions in Africa, Canadians ‘stepped up’ by collectively donating millions of dollars to the relief effort. Not only did such support surprise the media, but also the Canadian government, which quickly worked to facilitate the cooperation of both the public and private sectors.
I was fortunate to have at my disposal several scholars whose work covered the broad and remarkably complex history of the famine. Indeed, some scholars like Suzanne Franks, Eleanor Singer, and Phyllis M. Endreny directly address the role of the media in reporting on humanitarian crises, with specific reference to the Ethiopian famine. Others, like Fen Hampson and Nassisse Solomon, note the effect of the media on government decisions relating to aid. With such a broad range of topics at one’s disposal, here are the sources that I would recommend, among others, for those interested in the portrayal of humanitarian crises by the media, using the Ethiopian famine as an example:
Suzanne Franks. Reporting Disasters: Famine, Aid, Politics and the Media. London: Hurst & Company, 2013.
Suzanne Franks’ Reporting Disasters is one of most important sources for examining the role of the media in exposing the scale of the Ethiopian famine and is an essential read for those interested in the intricate tie between the media and humanitarianism. As she delves into the role of the BBC and the challenges their reporters met in exposing the famine to the wider Western public, she identifies how little aid had been entering the country prior to the media devoting significant attention to the crisis. Without the BBC and other subsequent media entering Ethiopia, the famine would not have attracted the international attention that it did. However, as she delves into the processes and behind-the-scenes workings of the BBC, she discovers that there is more at play than the benevolent intentions of individuals and instead the corporate workings of the media room may work against the humanitarian agenda of famine relief.
Eleanor Singer and Phyllis M. Endreny. Reporting on Risk: How the Mass Media Portray Accidents, Diseases, Disasters, and Other Hazards. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1993.
Eleanor Singer and Phyllis M. Endreny do well in their demonstration of the competition between domestic and international stories for an audience–or, put another way, the value of a news story. Singer and Endreny note several important points about how the media portrayed the Ethiopian famine in the United States. For example, Singer and Endreny attribute the use of blame by the media to being one of the key factors in derailing American aid efforts. Specifically, American media sought to blame part of the origins of the crisis on Western governments, which they contend have been ignoring Ethiopia’s call for help.
Susan D. Moeller. Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death. New York: Routledge, 1999.
A topic that can be reflected in numerous humanitarian crises, Compassion Fatigue echoes similar points to Reporting on Risk by examining the selection of news stories and their implications on the attitudes of the American public. Her selection focuses on disasters from the 1980s and 90s, particularly on famines, wars, diseases, and other causes of death. Of note, the third chapter of her book has a significant portion devoted to the famine in Ethiopia. She provides a wonderful overview of the situation on the ground and then delves into the role of the American media in exposing the scale of the famine. Further, she does well in noting the impact of celebrity aid, the role of print media, and what various reporters focused on throughout the period of attention the famine received.
Fen Osler Hampson. Master of Persuasion: Brian Mulroney’s Global Legacy. New York: Signal, 2018.
Many historians examining the famine and Canada’s humanitarian response have used it as a milestone for Brian Mulroney’s federal Progressive Conservative government. Fen Hampson’s Master of Persuasion features an excellent overview of what he dubs “the CBC Factor,” or how the CBC’s November 1st, 1984, broadcast elicited such a strong response from the Canadian public. The Canadian media kept federal aid efforts in check by bringing up various issues and shortcomings on the part of the government. Such reporting elicited a response from within Parliament, which would debate and discuss matters of aid in the House of Commons. Overall, Hampson’s work demonstrates the evolving link between the public and private sectors with regards to famine relief, galvanized by the CBC and other Canadian media.
Nassisse Solomon. “Tears are Not Enough: Canadian Political and Social Mobilization for Famine Relief in Ethiopia, 1984-88,” in The Samaritan State Revisited. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2019.
The Samaritan State is a fantastic collection of works pertaining to Canada’s aid history. The contribution by Nassisse Solomon, a fellow CNHH member, in part explores how the famine’s publicity, generated by various media outlets, drove the close cooperation between the government and the public. She, like other scholars on this list, asserts the importance of the media in enabling various members of the Canadian government to undertake an aid mission to Ethiopia. Further, her work represents one of the rare instances in which she was able to interview a key member of the response team, its federal organizer, David MacDonald.
Jonathon Zimmer is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Queen’s University, Kingston. His doctoral work, under the direction of Dr. Lisa Pasolli, examines the actions of the Canadian government in response to famine in Ethiopia. This research builds upon his University of Regina MA thesis that explored Canadian media reactions to the Ethiopian Famine of 1984, and how this influenced federal approaches to the crisis. He is the author of “Mobilizing the World: Brian Mulroney and Canada’s Humanitarian Response to Famine in Sub-Saharan Africa,” in Canada and the Challenges of Leadership: How Canadian Prime Ministers have Responded to Crises at Home and Abroad (Regina: University of Regina Press, 2023).
With a goal of having at least two bulletins a year, this is the second bulletin of 2023. Please continue sending updates as we prepare for the next bulletin for May 2024.
CNHH at Congress 2024, York University or virtual
Round table on Local histories of famine relief – still time to join the panel
Annual general meeting – Save the approximate date
News from members
Common initiatives from members
Blogs & talks published by the CNHH
Welcome to new members
I. CONGRESS 2024 McGILL UNIVERSITY
CNHH ROUNDTABLE, ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING & OTHER NEWS
Roundtable: “Local histories of famine relief: food, (in)security, justice and nature at the village/micro level”
Format: Roundtable, hybrid format (online + in-person).
Venue: McGill University, Montreal
Date & Time: TBD June 2024
Chair: Dominique Marshall
Description: Humanitarian agencies have long tackled questions of food (in)security. In doing so, they have largely contributed to contemporary conceptions of the causes and remedies of famines, to the making of a vocabulary around food security, and to the construction and the dissemination of the main representations of famine. This panel explores practices of famine relief at the village/micro level on three continents, by international and local agents. Furthermore, it discusses the convergence and divergence of ideas between humanitarian workers, about governance of food production and delivery, about healthcare and debility, and about climate and nature. The panel will compare how they leveraged these assumptions to accomplish their missions in four different micro-contexts.
David Webster, Historian, Bishop’s University and Rogerio Savio Ma’averu, independent researcher, Timor-Leste, Famine, Aid and Strategies for Resilience in Timor-Leste Villages, 1975-79.
Nassisse Solomon, Western University, “Village-to-Village”: Micro-initiatives with large-scale impact in Canadian Engagements with the Ethiopian Famine of 1984-88.
Sonya de Laat, Research Associate, McMaster University, Dearth and Detail: Reviewing Historical Images for Greater Understanding of Causes and Responses to Food Security Crises.
Machia Désiré, Enseignant permanent d’histoire-géographie-Education à la Citoyenneté et à la Morale, CES DE NKASSOMO /MINESEC, La diplomatie humanitaire suisse en Afrique centrale : dimensions locales, rétrospective et prospective.
Interested in being a panelist? There is still an opportunity to join this panel. Please contact Dominique Marshall, DominiqueMarshall@CUNET.CARLETON.CA, by December 15 so that the panel can begin communicating about the round table in the New Year.
The Annual meeting of the CNHH will take place during Congress which runs 12-21 June 2024. Details of when and where the meeting will take place, registration link, and an agenda will be shared closer to the date. It will be hybrid.
Dominique Marshall published “Teaching Human Rights History,” American Review of Canadian Studies, 53:1 (2023),118-130. She presented “The League of Red Cross Societies & Disabled People: Transnational insights on war impairment, capacity & debility”, Geneva, June 2023, Symposium on “The League of Red Cross Societies: Historical Perspectives 1919-1991”. The science portal of Gendered Design in STEAM, an initiative of the International Development Research Centre, which she co-directed, is now open: https://carleton.ca/gendesignsteam/ .
CNHH members Sonya de Laat and Nassisse Solomon have been collaborating with Arsenii Alenichev, as postdoctoral fellow at Oxford, on a project exploring historical legacies shaping contemporary visual representations of global health issues and activities. Alenichev recently published preliminary results of an exercise that aimed to explore the promise of generative AI to produce more ethical depictions than those that have been the subject of critique for the better part of the past several decades. Coinciding with the publication of an NPR piece about the project, de Laat (SdL) asked Alenichev (AA) about this experiment:
[SdL] What inspired the project?
[AA] Since I started writing a PhD about precarious [clinical] trial subjects, Facebook started showing me the images of, like advertisements of young clinical trial [subjects], and they were smiling people and that was kind of very, very different from local realities, at least what I encountered in [west African country]… I interviewed trial subjects and many of them they were well really disturbed people because many of them there were ex-combatants, many of them just marginalized youth who participated in the trial for the money…That kind of prompted me to start asking questions about who created those images, how they’re created, why they are shown on Google in that way.
[The AI exercise] was a spontaneous kind of thing because my co-author really wanted to invert typical global health images. As I was trying to invert those images, I realized that it’s not really possible. I initially overlooked it and I remember I messaged [my co-author] just to say, “hey, we cannot do this exercise because it always tends to revert back to the suffering subject, the white saviour tropes.” [My co-author] was like, “Oh my God this is horrifying,” and then I was like, “oh, wait a second, yeah this is indeed horrifying because it actually tells quite a lot about the visual culture of global health and the kind of the relationship between artificial intelligence and chronic socioeconomic issues and the stereotypes and in ways in which they traveled.” And then I sent it to some friends and colleagues, some of them from the global south, and they were like, “it’s really horrifying.” It was quite striking that even if you ask AI specifically to produce images of black African doctors taking care of white kids, white suffering kids, it would always show you black kids as a recipient of care, and it would occasionally show you white doctors as providers of care. This really showcases the biases that whiteness is hegemonically coupled with the provision of care and blackness with reception of care.
[SdL] What is the main takeaway about generative AI in this instance?
[AA] The whole harmful stereotypes that global health practitioners activists and scholars have been fighting against it just is being casually reproduced. The whole exercise makes me feel very uncomfortable because these images are problematic; I mean, those images were co-created, I participated in the creation of those images. I’m still deeply disturbed by the whole thing. But again those images they’re replicated from the matrix of quote-end-quote ‘real images’ and I think this is where the complexity lies primarily…
One thing that is crystal clear, that there is this biased one way another and we should actively resist the political, the contextualising notion that AI products are somehow neutral and value free. No, they’re the mirror of reality. We could employ people with global health heritage to kind of improve AI, to make sure that the data sets are more inclusive, but that, ultimately, is not going to fix the chronic systematic inequalities that are in the very fabric of our societies. So that’s one of the key takeaway messages. Yes, there should be more involvement of people from diverse backgrounds, but also, it’s a sign that our society is not OK.
Ultimately, this is a cautionary tale (again) about new technologies—this time it is photo-realistic generative AI and its inherent flaw of reflecting back biases and reinforcing societal prejudices rather than challenging or overcoming them. Even when actively trying to create counter-narratives, photo-realistic generative AI struggles and fails due to the existing historical record of images available on the Internet—which are predominantly reproductions of harmful stereotypes—that form the foundation of the software’s algorithms.
Possible means of remedying (or ameliorating) this situation include, as Alenichev suggested, involving or following the lead of people from diverse backgrounds in the creation of images. For historians, an option is to flood the net with a diversity of underrepresented or overlooked stories and with alternative representations to add more material for AI to draw from. Examples can be seen in the “Treasures of CIDA Photography Collections” or Chapters 9 of the Samaritan State Revisited.
Watch this space as Solomon, de Laat, and Alenichev build on the generative AI project with a parallel look at the historical record forming the visual foundations of images that generative AI draws from, and with continued discussions of promises and pitfalls of this technology.
Transnational Representation: Canada and the Founding of Disabled People’s International, 1981 (https://transnationalrepresentation.omeka.net/exhibits/show/transnational-representation–/transnational-representation)
Refugees, Disability and Technology in Transnational Postwar Canada, 1946-1953 (https://envisioningtechnologies.omeka.net/exhibits/show/refugees–disability-and-techn/an-unending-global-crisis)
The 2013 edition of the CNHH Roundtable at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association at York University on “Ahistorical Aid: The Hidden Costs of Historical Amnesia in NGOs” was a great success. Thanks to convenor and chair Sarah Glassford, who is working at making its results public, to participants and CNHH mmbers, David Webster, Chris Trainor, and special guest Fabrice Weissman of the CRASH-msf project.
The CNHH helped arrange the visiting fellowship of Ghanaian specialists of coastal fisheries Joseph Aggrey-Fynn (https://directory.ucc.edu.gh/p/joseph-aggrey-fynn) at Carleton University at the end of the Fall term 2023. Dr Fynn is involved in several transnational development project. The CNHH will post news of the activities surrounding his visits as soon as they are scheduled.
Contribute! If readers of the CNHH Bulletin would like to contribute to the “Essential Reads” series, or on any other subject relevant to our membership, please contact Sarah Glassford: Sarah.Glassford@uwindsor.ca . We would be thrilled to feature your reading recommendations, or your thoughts and experiences on other CNHH topics!
VI. WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS
Anna Kozlova (2020-present) is a PhD candidate at the Department of History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She holds a BA in Communication Studies with a Minor in Law from Carleton University and an MA in World Heritage Studies from the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, Germany. Her research interests are focused on migration, diaspora, oral history, and transnationalism. She was the lead researcher on a MITACS-funded project “Two case studies in the public history of international development policies in Canada: the Lebanese Special Measures Program (1975-1990) and The Life of Lewis Perinbam (1925-2008),” which you can read about here.
~ 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
by Richard Marchese, Undergraduate Research Assistant
20 October 2023
Originally posted on I-CUREUS Blog, August 2023
I. The Project Briefly:
What is an internship, what is your internship?
An I-CUREUS opportunity is great for anyone looking to expand their horizons as a student at Carleton University. It is a project that gives funding to your coordinator to allow a student to be paid to do some research. For me, the internship has been mostly about archiving books for the Native North American Travelling College. I was looking at the collection of the books left on the shelves of the NNATC over its 50 years of existence, and was then instructed to do an inventory, by entering the data about each book using archival practices to make an archival catalogue of all the books with the appropriate information.
Creating the archive, and the work that went into it:
The work that went into creating the archive could be tedious and repetitive at times, but the information that I learned about the Indigenous population of Canada and America, was so valuable to me that I did not mind. I would take a book from the one of the 14 boxes that were temporarily moved to Carleton’s archives, study its features to evaluate the condition, add the title, ISBN, author, page number, and so on, as I was taught by Chris Trainor, Archivist at Carleton’s Archives and Special Collections. The most interesting part of the job was being able to read some of the information. My personal favourites were the creation stories, the textbooks on a particular tribal group, and the binder’s containing minutes about meetings that the College had. These three things allowed me to get a good insight into the types of things each distinct nation valued and used to survive as the generations of people who lived these amazing lives adapted to their environments.
Why this summer was great:
This summer was great for me. I was able to help an organization that I believe has not only great historical value but future value to the Indigenous population and settler population. I did this by using the research skills I learned at Carleton University. I have always been interested in Indigenous culture and this summer allowed me to explore that with the proper materials and supervision. I-CUREUS, and the NNATC gave me that opportunity and I am very thankful.
II. The Details of the Project:
The most challenging aspect:
The most challenging aspect of the archive project would have to be the amount of time spent reading. Reading titles, information about the book and even in a few cases the books themselves. The repetitiveness of opening a book, finding the information needed and documenting it then repeating the task over and over again was taxing on my focus.
The most rewarding aspect:
Despite the repetitiveness of the project my attention was quickly redirected by the passion that I found for the information in these books. I feel this archive is very important to the future of the Native North American Travelling college. The most rewarding aspect of the project was being able to help an organization that bases itself around education. Especially when that education is going towards a community that has struggled with systematic oppression.
The most interesting aspect:
The most interesting aspect of the project was the trip to the Akwesasne reserve, where I met the organizers and employees of the NNATC, as well as learned more about its history from a firsthand account. I have never been to the reserve for business and education, so it was cool. During our trip to the reserve the NNATC welcomed both myself and my supervisor with open arms and gave us a full tour of the museum and showed us how they do business. It was very exciting and taught me a lot. It was my favourite workday, the NNATC made it feel like a school field trip.
III. The Experience Brought to Life:
Tell us about the collection:
The collection of books that the NNATC provided us with were mostly derived of newspapers, binders containing minutes of past meetings of the NNATC, kids’ books, and other miscellaneous books. Most of the books have one of the NNATC stamps. All the books have a tie to Indigenous life, history, culture, organizations, beliefs, or education. This is because the original purpose of the NNATC was to provide education to people who were sent through the residential schools but wanted to learn more about their culture. The books all come from different collections that were donated to or purchased by the NNATC. These books come from a wide variety of schools, people, and organizations looking to help the cause, and for good reason. What is being done by the NNATC is great.
Oldest – newest books:
The oldest book in the collection was copyrighted in 1941, it is called “Building America”. It is a Publication of the Society for curriculum study, and it is number 176 in the arrival document.
The newest book was a binder containing the curriculum of a course taken by a trustee for the community from 2012.
IV. Working at Carleton:
Tell us about Carleton’s Archives and Special Collections:
The Archives and Special Collections or ASC for abbreviation, is a centre within the Carleton library where this project took place. I would like to thank the people who worked in the office with me Chris, Llyod, and a special congrats to Monica Ferguson who recently retired. Although I worked on this project by myself, we all shared a work environment. They made my experience great and welcomed me in with open arms, truly making me feel like part of a team. The ASC oversees supporting learning at Carleton university and beyond.
Was the I-CUREUS training helpful? If so, what skills did you learn?
The archival training that I received from I-CUREUS was helpful and I learned enough that it was worth my time. When working for I-CUREUS, all research assistants also need to select a training module and I selected self-management, as I felt it was fitting since I was working on my own schedule. I learned things about responsibility, time management and preparation. All these things allowed me to be successful through my I-CUREUS project.
Advice for anyone looking to participate in a project at Carleton or with the Native North American Travelling College:
My advice to anyone looking to participate at a project involving the NNATC or Carleton would be not to think about it, instead, just do it. I learned so much both about myself, the NNATC, Indigenous culture and Indigenous beliefs in general, that I felt there was no better way to spend my summer. Working as an employee at Carleton showed me what a good work environment is supposed to look like. I now have the knowledge and experience to move into successful employment.
Richard Marchese is a 5th Year student in Honours Political Science at Carleton University. He completed an undergraduate research assistantship under the joint supervision of Chris Trainor, Archivist, Ann Seymour, Executive Director of the NNATC, and Dominique Marshall, Historian and CNHH founder. The project is part of a larger initiative of the NNATC to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024 by highlighting the history and heritage of the college as one of the sources for its renewal.
Top 5 Resources on Humanitarianism, Development, and Photography
~ as recommended by Sonya de Laat, September 2023 ~
Chances are quite high that if you are working with the archives of an aid organization or a humanitarian worker from the past 150 years, you’ll encounter photographs. This is very exciting but can also be daunting depending on how many there are, your experience with working with images and the content of the pictures. On the one hand, photographs are evidentiary: they can show—to an extent—what the past was like. Pictures show what people wore, what they drove, what an individual looked like. They also (at least before the advent of CCTV) prove that someone was there; there was an event and it was witnessed. On the other hand, photographs are social and political artifacts. Learning about what they represent—at the time they were made as well as today in the present (often quite different meanings)—can be more important than what is depicted on the surface of the image. Considering what is not depicted, what sits outside the frame, can also be critically important to explore.
Photographs can also be powerful methodological tools for historians. They can jog peoples’ memories when used in photo-based oral histories or, when used as part of photo elicitation, can help access different knowledge and emotions otherwise difficult to reach. When shared by historians in publications or presentations, it is important to recognize these different dimensions of photographs—as artifacts, as evidence, their significance, their affect—to make full use of their richness while remaining attentive to potential limits and harms that can come from their use (or neglect).
This blog post shares some resources on the relationship between photography and histories of humanitarianism and international development actions. How are photographs to be “read” or interpreted? How can they be contextualized or treated versus other archival documents and artifacts? In what ways can photographs support the development of histories of humanitarian aid?
If you read only five things about histories of humanitarian photography, these suggestions provide a good foundation:
Arguably a shameless personal plug, this chapter provides a brief history of the emergence of humanitarian photography, an introduction to several significant photographic archives, and a summary of themes often represented in the pictures. Though limited to major photographic collections related to Africa, themes and theories are translatable to other post-colonial settings or those often on the receiving end of aid.
Heide Fehrenbach and Davide Rodogno, editors. Humanitarian Photography: A History. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Currently the ‘definitive’ publication on humanitarian photography, Fehrenbach and Rodogno provide a practical definition of the ‘genre’ and have gathered a wide assortment of examples and histories. The collection of essays reach back to the early days of photography, before “humanitarianism “ was considered a specific set of benevolent activities or, for that matter, a profession. Particularly useful are chapters looking at the trope of children, or the concept of visual politics, and the still under explored realm of gender in humanitarian action. Considering the sheer amount of references this book receives, it is a must have in your collection.
Jane Lydon. Photography, Humanitarianism, Empire. Routledge, 2016.
Valérie Gorin. “Photography, Humanitarianism, Empire.” History of Photography 42, 1 (2018): 98-100.
Lydon’s book provides a rich example of the value in exploring little-known cases in the emergence of humanitarianism through early photographs. Focusing her cases on Australia, and Australia Aborigines in particular, Lydon weaves together a truly global tapestry of historical and visual criticism. The supplementary book review by Gorin will augment readers’ experiences with Lydon’s book.
Carol Payne. “‘You hear it in their voice’: Photographs and Cultural Consolidation among Inuit Youths and Elders.” In Image and Memory: Oral History and Photography, pp. 97-114. Edited by Alexander Freund and Alistair Thomson. Palgrave Press, 2011.
Though not specific to humanitarian or international development actions, or actors, I include this book to present some practical examples on methods of employing photography in historical research. Particularly as humanitarian and international development actors increasingly work in partnership with, follow the lead of, or are themselves from communities often on the receiving end of aid, this book is a great methodological resource in an era of reconciliation and decolonization.
David Campbell. “The Iconography of Famine.” In Picturing Atrocity: Reading Photographs in Crisis. Edited by G. Batchen, M. Gidley, NK Miller, and J. Prosser. Reaktion Books, 2012.
Aubrey Graham. “One Hundred Years of Suffering? ‘Humanitarian crisis photography’ and Self-representation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Social Dynamics 40, 1 (2014): 140-163.
Kevin Grant. “Christian Critics of Empire: Missionaries, Lantern Lectures, and the Congo Reform Campaign in Britain.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 29, 2 (2001): 27–58.
Sharon Sliwinski. “The Childhood of Human Rights: The Kodak on the Congo.” Journal of Visual Culture 5, 3 (2006): 333-363.
Dr. Sonya de Laat is a scholar of moral and practical dimensions of humanitarian visual culture and practice through the application of historical and new media lenses. Currently working as a Research Associate in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University, Dr. de Laat is an active member of the Humanitarian Health Ethics Research Group, and of the CNHH. Recent publications include “Memory and Photographs of Unrepresentable Trauma in Rwandan Transitional Justice” (2022) and “The Camera and the Red Cross: ‘Lamentable pictures’ and Conflict Photography Bring into Focus an International Movement, 1855-1865” (2021). In 2022 Dr. de Laat was the Caroline Miles Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford’s Ethox Centre.
CNHH ROUNDTABLE, ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING & OTHER NEWS
Roundtable: “Ahistorical Aid: The Hidden Costs of Historical Amnesia in NGOs” (Session 48)
Format: Roundtable, hybrid format (online + in-person).
Venue: York University, Toronto – Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Building (DB) room 0016 + online
Date & Time: Tuesday, 30th May 2023, 10:30–noon (EST)
Chair: Sarah Glassford, Archivist, University of Windsor
David Webster, Historian, Bishop’s University
Fabrice Weissman, Aid practitioner, Médecins Sans Frontières (Paris)
Chris Trainor, Archivist, Carleton University
Melanie Oppenheimer, Historian, Australian National University
Description: This roundtable will explore the intertwined subjects of archives, history, and aid work in the world of NGOs. The panelists bring overlapping experiences as historians of aid, aid practitioners in the field, advocates for historical and archival preservation, and observers of aid organizations’ uses of history. Rather than the traditional approach of hearing a series of short talks followed by audience Q&A, in this roundtable the chair will ask the panelists to discuss a series of questions in an interactive fashion, with the goal of engaging one another and the audience in a true dialogue on the subject of how NGOs do and don’t use their own histories, why that is, and why it matters for both historians and for the organizations themselves.
Registered attendees of the CHA conference at Congress may attend in person or can join online via a link provided by Congress. The full program of the CHA conference is here
Community members not otherwise involved in Congress may join in person at the above location. At this time, it is not possible to join online without paying a registration fee for the CHA conference and Congress. A “community pass” to Congress is available for $55, plus the CHA registration fee (student, full-time employed, retiree & unwaged rates available). See information on the Congress website.
The Annual meeting of the CNHH will take place on Monday, 29th May from 12:00 to 1:30pm (EST)
The agenda will include research updates, David’s Webster suggestion for a project of digitization of humanitarian archives, plans for the future, website update, sponsored panel for 2024, and appointment of future officers. To add other points, please email Sarah Glassford, who will be chairing the meeting (email@example.com ).
Panels of interest: Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID)
Sonya de Laat and Nassisse Solomon are collaborating with colleagues at Oxford and Johns Hopkins on a fledgling project exploring the decolonization of global health imagery though a transdisciplinary bioethics and historical lens: Towards an ethics of global health visuals. The collaboration was initiated between Sonya de Laat and Arsenii Alinechev, a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford, while Dr. de Laat was a visiting scholar at the Ethox Centre last June. The project is currently funded through Dr. Alinechev’s postdoctoral fellowship as a subproject to the GLIDEnetwork. The project team includes CNHH members Sonya de Laat and Nassisse Solomon among the full team that can be found here: https://www.oxjhubioethics.org/research/putting-people-and-diseases-into-the-picture
Laura Madakoro, supported by an Early Researcher Award, launched The Disaster Lab at Carleton University. Inspired by very real climate change crises confronting our global community, and the prospect of hundreds of thousands of environmental refugees in the coming years, this project seeks to learn and better understand historic responses to disasters at the local, provincial, federal, and global levels.
Dominique Marshall continued the series of joint interviews with Oxfam Canada veterans, conducted in collaboration with Susan Johnson, Marc Allain and Lawrence Cummings.published three articles: “Teaching Human Rights History,”in The American Review of Canadian Studies; “Creating, Archiving and Exhibiting Disability History: The Oral Histories of Disability Activists of the Carleton University Disability Research Group” (with T. Jennissen, C. Trainor, and B. Robertson), in First Monday; and “Supporting Research on Gender and Design Amongst STEAM Researchers in the Souths: A Case Study of Subsumption in Design Methods” (with C. Del Gaudio and B. Hallgrimsson), in DRS2022: Bilbao. Dr. Marshall was also involved in the Gendered Design in STEAM project.
On 9 May 2023, the chiefs of Canadian humanitarian agencies, members of the Canadian Humanitarian Response Network (HRN), met in Ottawa to discuss issues they face, among them the Canadian response to rising levels of international migration and increased refugee flows, the challenges for humanitarian agencies of sanctions on illegal regimes in crisis situations, and financing mechanisms available to civil society organizations for their humanitarian work. Presenters included the UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Canada, Matthieu Kimmel, the Director of humanitarian policy at Global Affairs Canada, and Hunter McGill, Senior Fellow at the School of International Development, University of Ottawa.
David Webster will present a film at CASID (see above) With the help of a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant, David Webster has been working with the Pacific Peoples Partnership to digitize their archives. PPP was formed in 1975. Based in Victoria, it is the only Canadian NGO working on the Pacific Islands. Its first overseas project, support to build cooking houses in Tonga after a natural disaster, is described at https://theconversation.com/canadian-reconstruction-aid-to-tonga-40-years-ago-points-the-way-today-175506. The digitization stage of this project is now complete and major materials will be described over the course of Summer 2023. We expect to be able to hire a student to work on describing and uploading the materials this summer. If interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Carleton University’s Archives and Special Collections has returned to acquiring personal collections after the pandemic’s ripple effects posed some issues with acquiring and processing archival donations. Multiple donations that were received over the last year are still being processed to be made accessible and discoverable for researchers.
At an informal meeting held in January 2022, the CNHH adopted a small Steering Committee. If you are interested in participating in, please get in touch!
Caitlin Arbour, Carleton university Undergraduate Student in History, has continued to research the history of Farm Radio International by conducting interviews with veterans of their training program in several countries of the African continent over two academic terms. This has been made possible by a grant from the I-CUREUS program at Carleton University, and within the Practicum Program of the department of History.
Caitlin Arbour, undergraduate student in history, Carleton University. Caitlin works with Sylvia Harrison of Farm Radio International at a project of oral history, under the guidance of the CNHH.
Claire Lefort-Rieu is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the Centre Population et Développement (Ceped) in Paris. For several years, she worked for international NGOs providing assistance to forced displaced people in the Middle East and Africa. Thanks to her professional and academic experience, she practices a methodology of “networked double ethnography” with both aid actors and their so-called “beneficiaries”. After working on religious “minorities” among the Iraqi refugees, she now studies forced migration governance in Cameroon.
Rachel Sandwell, Faculty Lecturer – McGill University – History and Women’s and Gender Studies. Dr. Sandwell’s first book looked at South African women’s exile politics, examining the work of women activists when the major South African resistance movements were based outside South Africa, in other African countries. This led to her current research on NGO, including Canadian NGO, relationships with African liberation movements in the 1960s-1980s. She is exploring how NGOs balanced support for the ambitions of liberation organizations with unease over the military aspect of these movements, and how the movements, NGOs, and African states hosting the liberation movements navigated the differences and overlaps between refugees and political exiles.
Jonathon Zimmer, MA Student, University of Regina – History; BA (Thompson Rivers University) Jonathon’s fields of interest involve a broad range of topics pertaining to the history of Canadian reaction to humanitarian crises. For instance, his MA thesis explores the reaction of the Canadian media to the Ethiopian Famine of 1984, and how this influenced federal approaches to the crisis. The media’s role in exposing the scope and scale of the Ethiopian famine, and in evaluating the effectiveness of the government’s response, played a crucial role in shaping that response. The shock value of what was shown on TV was a powerful call to action, and Canadians expected their government to step up.
Often, histories of humanitarianism or specific humanitarian interventions focus on the discourses deployed, the policies enacted, the tangible aid provided, or the actors involved. An equally important but less frequently studied thread running through aid history is the use (and misuse) of science and technology in humanitarian interventions.
During the Fall 2021 semester, students from Ottawa’s Carleton University who participated in Dr. Dominique Marshall’s seminar “STEM in Canadian Society and Policy” partnered with students from Dr. Soenke Kunkel and Dr. David Bosold’s seminar, “Science and Technology in Transatlantic Relations” at the Freie Iniversität in Berlin. As part of their work for these courses, the students created timelines showcasing a variety of humanitarian inventions in which science and technology played a significant part:
The timelines are hosted for public viewing on the Recipro project website. The Recipro project is a collaboration between the history departments of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, and centers on the convergence of pedagogy, science, and digital humanities. The site allows users to discover the history of transnational solidarity and humanitarian aid through teaching and learning activities, including the resulting student projects (presentations, archival material, timelines, and much more).
Dr. Dominique Marshall is a professor of History at Carleton University and co-founder of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History.
A TWO-DAY SYMPOSIUM WILL BE HELD AT THE IFRC, GENEVA, ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY 15-16 JUNE 2023.
Since 2019, members of the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project “Resilient Humanitarianism” have been working on aspects of the history of the League of Red Cross Societies. This has been a collaboration of interdisciplinary academics from Australia, Britain, and France. As a finale of the project, we seek scholars of the Red Cross Movement and Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies to contribute to a 2-day symposium to share their current research on the League of Red Cross Societies, discuss and analyze the history and impact of this important international organization that has been under-historicized to date.
From its beginnings in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, through to 1991 when it became the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC), we have sought to understand how the League of Red Cross Societies (LRCS), the world’s largest volunteer network, survived the turbulent interwar period and Second World War, and expanded through the decolonization and globalization era of the Cold War. Examining the history of this transnational humanitarianism organization offers new insights into how organizations respond to various geopolitical, cultural, and social shifts over time and place.
For this symposium, we seek contributions from scholars working on major platforms of the League of Red Cross Societies such as health and public health policy, disaster management, aid and relief, the Junior Red Cross, and the development of national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and League infrastructure, and international collaborations with other international bodies such as WHO and the United Nations. We are particularly interested in hearing from those working on the post-World War II period and the emergence of new national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies following national independence and how those new national Societies interacted with the League in Geneva.
Questions to consider include, but are not limited to:
How did the LRCS develop as an institution of its own? How did it navigate the period 1920-45? What programs did it support?
How did the LRCS interact with newly established national Red Cross/Red Crescent societies of recently independent countries in the Middle-East, Africa and Asia?
What programs did the LRCS establish in the post-WWII period, and were they successful on the ground? (eg. public health, disaster relief, first aid, etc.)
How did the LRCS navigate the Cold War and its relations with Soviet republics and their allies?
What role have gender, volunteering, and climate change played? How can we explain the League’s institutional resilience in the twentieth century?
We will be joined by Emeritus Professor David P. Forsythe (University of Nebraska-Lincoln). A welcome reception will be held on the evening of Wednesday 14 June at the IFRC.
Report from Two Years of Co-Creation of Knowledge, Policy, and Education Materials
by Helen Kennedy
August 12, 2022
Back on 6 April 2020, we announced the beginning of a Mitacs-funded research partnership between the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History, Carleton University, and five Canadian NGOs. At that time, we thought pandemic delays might extend our four-month project perhaps an additional two or three months. Now, over two years later, I am happy to announce that the project titled “Micro-Histories of Transnational Humanitarian Aid: Co-Creation of Knowledge, Policy, and Education Materials” has officially come to an end!
Having an opportunity to delve into the diverse histories and policies that shape the work of these disparate organizations has made the long pandemic days a little more interesting. The interviews and archival research I conducted covered a broad spectrum of transnational NGO work, from advocating for more inclusive election practices in Lebanon to contextualizing the work of Black leaders in Saskatchewan at the turn of the 20th century to challenges facing organizations opposed to conflict diamonds to the histories of refugee resettlement and anti-free trade advocacy.
Each organization had unique research challenges and the final reports will be used by the organizations to meet diverse needs.
As the Latin American Working Group grapples with how best to communicate to new researchers the relevancy of their work in the history of transnational solidarity and advocacy movements, we recovered four boxes of archival material and organized their transfer to the LAWG Library at York University. Interviews with former volunteers and the accompanying report sheds light on how anti-free trade solidarity includes more than simply a history of transnational labour history: the histories of refugees, human rights, environmental protection, and diplomacy are bound up in the history of LAWG and Common Frontiers.
As WUSC celebrated its 100th anniversary during the pandemic, we undertook a history of their involvement with Hungarian refugee student resettlement to shine a light on the interconnected nature of their history and their current programming. Today, WUSC hosts over 150 university students annually as part of its Student Refugee Program.
As a founding civil society member of the Kimberly Process, we worked with IMPACT to explore the history of civil society involvement in international diamond regulation. The work aims to support their ongoing advocacy work regarding resource extraction and artisanal mining.
The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan has been doing incredible work surrounding anti-racism and educating the community on the benefits of cultural diversity since 1975. Our research project aimed to provide context for the life and achievements of Dr. Alfred Shadd, a Black educator, politician, doctor, entrepreneur, and civic leader at the turn of the 20th century.
The Disability Hub at the Centre for Lebanese Studies used our research into inclusive election best practices in North America and Europe as part of their lobbying campaign to improve inclusivity in the May 2022 elections in Lebanon.
It has been immensely varied and gratifying work and I am grateful that our stakeholders gave me their time, expertise, and advice as they navigated adapting their organizations’ work to the online space. I am looking forward to seeing the ways that all the organizations continue to explore their histories in order to shape their futures.
Helen Kennedy is a PhD candidate at Carleton University where she studies international intervention and humanitarian action in Bosnia (1992-1995).