Tag: Humanitarian Aid (Page 1 of 2)

The History, and Future, of Transnational Humanitarian Work

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!

For the last two years, I have had the privilege of working with the Latin American Working Group, WUSC (World University Service of Canada), IMPACT (formerly Partnership Africa Canada), the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, and the Disability Hub (Centre for Lebanese Studies / Oxfam Quebec) to learn more about the work that they do, tell their stories, and contribute in some small way to the future of their organizations.

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).

CNHH Presents: Essential Reads in the History of Humanitarianism

Top 6 English-language Works on Children and Humanitarian Aid

~ as recommended by Dominique Marshall, September 2021~

~ With an introduction by Sarah Glassford ~

Although some of the modern world’s earliest humanitarian movements and organizations revolved around adult concerns such as the immorality of chattel slavery or the devastation of war, children quickly emerged as a central focus of certain humanitarian efforts and as powerful ambassadors of need in many others. As Karen Dubinsky writes, children “are as rich in symbolism as they are short on power,”[1] making their perceived suffering an excellent means of mobilizing support for fundraising and awareness campaigns. But they are also people with a degree of agency, who experience their times and circumstances – and the aid thrust upon them – in ways that do not necessarily follow the roles ascribed to them.

What follows is a shortlist of English-language works – some classic and some more recent – that innovatively and sometimes movingly explore the ways children at home and abroad have been recipients, donors, and symbols of humanitarian aid.

Dr. Marshall’s (current) top 6 essential reads, in order of publication:

1. Joy Parr. Labouring Children: British Immigrant Apprentices to Canada, 1869-1924. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1980.

This classic study of orphaned and working-class British children sent to Canada as apprentices and adoptees provides a very well-rounded view of the (not always positive) outcomes of child-saving adults’ good intentions and authority. It also emphasizes the impact of class on childhood – particularly for the children of the poor.

2. J.R. Miller. Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.

Another classic study, this one is about assimilationist institutions for Indigenous children that were claimed in their time to be a form of Canadian humanitarianism at home. Although there are now more recent, and more critical, works on the residential schools, Miller’s chapter on the resistance of the children is still full of meaning and good questions.

3. Erica Bornstein. The Spirit of Development: Protestant NGOs, Morality, and Economics in Zimbabwe. New York: Routledge, 2003.

An anthropological and sociological study of two religious, transnational NGOs in Zimbabwe, Bornstein’s study offers an excellent on-the-ground view of the roles of both sponsors and sponsored children/families, that prompts new ways of thinking about humanitarian images, actions, and consequences.

4. David M. Rosen. Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism. Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.

The question of child soldiers is all too often oversimplified. Rosen’s study unpacks the many complicated dimensions of this phenomenon, including how a variety of political groups in Africa have argued in different ways for the rights of children, and the decisions made by children themselves.

5. Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler. “Copying and Conversion: An 1824 Friendship Album ‘from a Chinese Youth.’” American Quarterly 59, 2 (2007): 301-339.

Sanchez-Eppler’s careful study of a friendship album created at a Connecticut school that trained “heathen” youths to be foreign missionaries, interpreters, doctors, and teachers is a wonderful model for how to approach and mine primary sources for evidence of children’s expressions and emotions – even in what might appear to be conventional copy-work or formulaic sentiments.

6. Matthew Hilton. “Ken Loach and the Save the Children Film: Humanitarianism, Imperialism, and the Changing Role of Charity in Postwar Britain.” The Journal of Modern History 87, 2 (2015): 357-394.

Hilton’s valuable article examines the first fifty years of Britain’s Save the Children through the lens of a 1969 documentary by Ken Loach that framed SCF’s work in Africa as a form of imperialism. The Loach film and Hilton’s article both highlight how domestic social policies and humanitarian endeavours proceed from the same attitudes. There is much more to say in this area – for instance, with respect to the teaching of lip-reading (rather than sign language) to deaf children, as documented in Lindsay Anderson and Guy Brenton’s 1954 short documentary Thursday’s Children (about The Royal School for the Deaf in Margate, UK).

_____________________

Dr. Dominique Marshall is Professor of History at Carleton University, where she teaches and researches the histories of social policy, children’s rights, humanitarian aid, refugees, disability, and technology. She is the founder and coordinator of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History, and served as president of the Canadian Historical Association 2013-2015. Her book, Aux origines sociales de l’État providence (1998) [available in English as The Social Origins of the Welfare State (2006)] received the Jean-Charles Falardeau Prize (now Canada Prize) from the Canadian Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities. Among many other organizations and projects, she is a member of the advisory board of Resilient Humanitarianism funded by the Australian Research Council, and of the teaching website Recipro: the history of international and humanitarian aid

Dr. Sarah Glassford is the Archivist in Leddy Library’s Archives & Special Collections at the University of Windsor, and a social historian of modern Canada whose published works include Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross (2017). She would like to officially thank Dominique for introducing her to the formal study of humanitarian history (ca. 2008, when Sarah was a postdoctoral fellow at Carleton’s neighbouring institution, the University of Ottawa) and for looping her into many shared projects and networking opportunities ever after.


[1] Karen Dubinsky, “Children, Ideology, and Iconography: How Babies Rule the World,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 5, 1 (2012): 8.

Digital Pre-Panel I “Governing Humanitarianism – Past, Present and Future”

In preparation for the Herrenhausen Conference “Governing Humanitarianism” in 2022, two online pre-panels will take place on September 27 and 28. Scholars from various disciplines and practitioners in humanitarian sectors are invited to join this years’ online event.

In the last two decades, humanitarianism and human rights have crystallized as two flourishing fields of research within various disciplines. Both concepts have been the subject of a lively international debate among political scientists, legal scholars, and historians, concerning their respective histories, nature, and impacts. Humanitarianism and human rights are often presented as opposing terms, and sometimes even as rival concepts, by scholars advocates on both sides. Such definitions typically present humanitarianism as resting upon a discourse of charity and suffering, while human rights are based on a discourse of solidarity and justice. Yet despite their differences, both concepts also share some similar historical origins and developments. Perhaps most importantly, both embody entangled notions of humanity. Despite the academic efforts to draw clear line between them, the boundaries between aid, relief, and rights remain both blurred and complicated.

The main goal of this digital panel is to discuss this complex relationship from various disciplinary perspectives. Rather than highlighting the differences between humanitarianism and human rights, leading experts from political science, international law, and international history will focus on the manifold overlaps and links between the two fields. When and how did these concepts compete and reinforce each other? In what ways did the emergence of humanitarian norms influence and contribute to the global emergence of international human rights law? What entanglements, dilemmas, and tensions emerge out of various competing concepts of humanitarianism and global human rights? And finally, how does this entwined history influence our landscape of international politics and crisis management today?

The digital panel “Human Rights and Humanitarianism – a Complicated Relationship?” is part of the Herrenhausen Conference “Governing Humanitarianism – Past, Present and Future,” funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

A link to join the discussions will be published on the Volkswagen Foundation website at the beginning of September 2021. This digital pre-panel as part of the upcoming 2022 Herrenhausen Conference on “Human Rights and Humanitarianism – a Complicated Relationship?” will be held on 27 September 2021, 3:30-5pm. More information, including panel participants and bios, registration, and conference details can be found on the conference website.

CfP: The Red Cross Movement, Voluntary Organizations, and Reconstruction in Western Europe in the 20th century

From H-Human Rights

This one-day symposium will be held at the Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po (Paris, France) on Friday 12 June 2020

Historical research on voluntary or non-government organizations and their contribution to the reconstruction of states, communities and humanitarian assistance to civilian populations following conflicts, epidemics and disasters through the twentieth century has generally focused on non-Western European countries. The historiography suggests that it is mostly in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa that natural or man-made disasters have occurred, and that these places have been the focus for humanitarian assistance. The major geographical spheres of interest for Red Cross societies and non-government organizations to provide assistance to populations in times of severe crises do not generally include Western Europe, except for World War II. Rather, the humanitarian enterprise is viewed through the binary of the Global North/Global South, those who save and those who are saved. Continue reading

CfP: Culture and International History VI: Visions of Humanity

Call for Papers

Culture & International History VI: Visions of Humanity

6-8 May 2019 in Berlin

John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universitaet Berlin

Deadline: July 8, 2018

 

The conference Culture and International History VI will take place from 6 – 8 May 2019 in Berlin. The conference marks the 20th anniversary of the symposium cycle that began in 1999 and has since taken place in Wittenberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Berlin; key themes and contributions have been published in Berghahn Books’ series Explorations in Culture and International History (Oxford, New York, since 2003). Continue reading

Global Impact Soirée

By Sandrine Murray

 

On May 9, 2017, CNHH attended Global Impact Soirée, an event highlighting Canadian contributions to international aid.

Tyler Owens and Julia van Drie helped research a film discussing Canada’s history of international aid. It took the work of six CNHH members to identify events, while research assistants Tyler and Julia documented them. The CNHH also helped rejuvenate the slide show of CIDA highlighted at the evening. “25 years of excellence in International Photography,” was brought back online at the CNHH’s request, and is now hosted by the MacOdrum Library at Carleton University.To see the photos, check out the CIDA photo library collection here.

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1984: The Parable of Ethiopian Famine and Foreign Aid

by Nassisse Solomon

The Terrible Face of Famine - Maclean's, November 18, 1984: 28.

Ethiopia has recently resurfaced in international headlines, in light of yet another looming apocalyptic scale famine.  It is being widely reported that Ethiopia is facing its worst drought in 50 years. [1] A result of three failed rainy seasons, coupled with an El Nino effect warming the Pacific Ocean and affecting global weather patterns.[2] Changes in weather patterns that have resulted in punishing heat waves and drought throughout the horn of Africa region, and in Ethiopia becoming one of the worst afflicted countries.[3] With just weeks remaining before the start of the main cropping season in the country, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is calling for urgent funding to assist farmers in sowing their fields to abate drought stricken areas from falling deeper into hunger and food insecurity.[4] With a future saddled by the “uncertainty of what nature has called down upon it”[5], Ethiopia, as CBC’s Margaret Evans among many others have characterized it, is once again “on the edge.”[6]
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CNHH in Conversation with Dr. James Orbinski

by Christine Chisholm and Will Tait

On March 24, 2016 Dr. James Orbinski, former international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, scholar of global health and practicing physician was invited by Carleton University’s Bachelor of Global and International Studies (BGInS) to present the keynote lecture for the official launch of the program. Dr. Chris Brown, director of BGInS, kindly arranged for a meeting with Orbinski before the lecture with CNHH members Dr. Dominique Marshall and PhD candidates Christine Chisholm and Will Tait from Carleton’s Department of History.

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New Publication: The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention.

Cambridge University Press recently published a new volume on humanitarian aid and intervention of potential interest to the community.  Edited by Dr. Fabian Klose of the Leibniz-Institut fuer Europaeische Geschichte, Mainz, The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to Present presents articles by academics including Michael Geyer, Daniel Marc Segesser, Stefan Kroll, and Mairi S. Macdonald.

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My Visit to Plan Canada’s Head Offices in Toronto

By Carlos Uriel Contreras Flores

 

Hello,

In this post I will let you know my experience in Toronto at the offices of Plan Canada, a visit I made last week.

Some weeks ago, Professor Dominique Marshall asked me to check some irreplaceable documents that Plan Canada had in their offices in Toronto, and that are part of the historical archives of the organization. These are basically letters and photo albums of some of their most important and lasting donors and sponsors.

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