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).
The Twelfth Bulletin of the CNHH has now been sent out to the membership. If you missed it, the complete PDF of the bulletin can be found here: Twelfth Bulletin PDF
It has been more than a year since the last bulletin of May 2021. We hope that you are all well and that you will continue to send news, posts and announcements.
I. PANEL AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The annual CNHH sponsored panel on Legacies of Colonialism in Africa: Reconsidering Conquest, Capitalism, and Transnationalism in the 19th and 20th Centuries Héritages du colonialisme en Afrique : nouveau regard sur la conquête, le capitalisme et le transnationalisme aux XIXe et XXe siècles will take place on Wednesday the 18th of May, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Ottawa time.
We are looking forward to watching our colleagues:
Stephen Osei Owusu (PhD candidate, Carleton University), “The Mankessim Riots of 1849: a Case of Contested Ethno-forestry practices or Conflict between ‘Europeanized’ and Indigenous Africans.”
Simplice Ayangma Bonoho (Banting Fellow, Bishop’s University), « Le « Centre de Rééducation des handicapés de Yaoundé » (CRHY) : Un projet humanitaire d’envergure ? : Pour une relecture des relations diplomatiques canado- camerounaises (1968-1980). »
Sarah Glassford started a series of best reads in humanitarian history, last Fall, in the blog of the CNHH. Three have been published so far.
Dominique Marshall published two articles: “‘CIDA Gives You the World!’ Visual Media and Development Education in Canadian Schools: 1980-2000” & “Ethical Traditions in Humanitarian Photography and the Challenges of the Digital Age – Four Conversations with Canadian Communications Officers”, in theJournal of Humanitarian Affairs, Special issue on “Humanitarian Action in the Age of Visual Media: The Past and Present of Humanitarian Communication” Fall 2021, which came from a CNHH panel at the Canadian Historical Association two years previously.
The recordings of the twelve group conversations of the “Oxfam Canada between 1964 and 1990: A collaborative memory project” coordinated by Oxfam veterans Marc Allain, Susan Johnson and Lawrence Cummings, with the support of Dominique Marshall, will be deposited at Carleton University Archives and Special Collections later in 2022.
V. COMMON INITIATIVES FROM MEMBERS
At an informal meeting held in January 2022, the CNHH adopted a small Steering Committee. Here are the responsibilities.
Blog and website: Sarah Glassford
Bulletin: Helen Kennedy and Dominique Marshall
Twitter: Lydia Wytenbroek
Regular updates: Helen Kennedy
Annual meetings: Nassisse Solomon
Panel at Congress: Jill Campbell-Miller 2022 Nassisse Solomon & David Webster afterwards
Community links: Dominique Marshall
Events: Lydia Wytenbroek
Grants, joint research projects: Dominique Marshall
On March 30, Lydia Wytenbroek organised the CNHH sponsored Book Launch for The NGO Moment: The Globalisation of Compassion from Biafra to Live Aid, written by CNHH long-time partner in Ireland, Kevin O-Sullivan, with guest speakers Ruth Compton Brouwer, John W. Foster, Laura Madokoro, and Ian Smillie.
VI. WORK WITH NGOS
Carleton fourth-year student Cailtin Arbour has started an internship with Farm radio International to produce oral histories of the impact of FRI on local communities on Africa, under the supervision of Sylvie Harrison.
Over the last two years, the CNHH has worked with the Lewis Perinbam Innovation and Impact Awards to preserve and share the memory and legacy of one of the most influential humanitarians in Canadian history: the late Lewis Perinbam.
The Malysian-born, Scottish-educated Perinbam spent most of his career in the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and “anyone who worked in the international development field in Canada during the 1970s and 1980s would be familiar” with his name. Although Perinbam’s work is well-documented in archival collections and discussed in scholarly publications, those who knew and worked with him wished to make his impact more accessible and widely known to the general public. As one writer summed up his remarkable career: “Lewis was instrumental in fostering partnerships between Canada and the Global South, in making education more accessible to all and in creating opportunities for young people to become more involved in making our world a better place.” 
Thanks to a grant from the MITACS agency, Carleton University doctoral candidate in History Anna Kozlova was able to conduct a series of interviews with friends, relatives, supervisors, mentees, and co-workers of Lewis Perinbam, exploring his significant role shaping humanitarian work and humanitarian workers in both governmental (CIDA) and non-governmental organizations of the later 20th c. The result is a fascinating composite portrait of a pivotal player in the Canadian and international development scene.
Kozlova’s thoughtful interviews, as well as a selection of archival documents not previously available to the public, a podcast, and a timeline of Perinbam’s life can be found in a curated Lewis Perinbam web portal hosted on the World University Service Canada (WUSC) website. Information about the Lewis Perinbam Award (for exceptional volunteers in the field of development work) is also available through the portal.
As ever, the CNHH is proud to support efforts like this one which work to preserve and share the history of humanitarian aid and development work in Canada and beyond.
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Anna Kozlova is a doctoral candidate in History at Carleton University and CNHH member interested in 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).”
Sarah Glassford is the current editor of the CNHH blog, archivist in the University of Windsor’s Leddy Library Archives & Special Collections, and a social historian of 20th c. Canada.
The Canadian Foreign Policy Journal (CFPJ) is seeking submissions for its 28th and 29th volume, to be published in 2022/23. CFPJ is a fully peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published by the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University, Canada. Readers include government officials, academics, students of international affairs, journalists, NGOs, and the private sector. Established in 1992, CFPJ is now Canada’s leading journal of international affairs.
Full articles: 6000-7000 words;
Policy Commentaries: short policy briefings engaging key topics in international policy, 1500- 2000 words;
Book reviews: 1000 word maximum for single reviews, 2500 for multi-book review.
“International Solidarity from a Feminist and Anti-Racist Perspective”
Dr. Maïka SondarjeeProfessor in the School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
(see Teams link below)
Dr. Sondarjee’s research addresses the inclusion of local populations in development policymaking at the World Bank, the marginalization of feminist research in International Relations, the white savior complex in international development, as well as the inequalities supported by the institutionalized world order. She was was a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the Department of political science and Centre de recherches et d’études internationales, Université de Montréal in 2020-21, is a Board Member of the NGO Alternatives, is co-founder of the organization Femmes Expertes, a member of the SSHRC programs’ committee, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID).
Dr. Mason’s talk, “The ‘Creative Crusade’: Settler Colonial Antinomies and Books for Development in the Age of Three Worlds,” examines the postwar book donation schemes created by Canada’s first NGO, the Overseas Book Centre.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Network of Humanitarian History’s (CNHH) seventh annual meeting was held virtually through the video conferencing platform Zoom. The virtual format of this year’s meeting resulted in a record high turnout with a number of overseas partners joining the meeting, demonstrating one of the rare benefits of the pandemic.
This was noted during the planning for the Canadian Historical Association’s (CHA) 2022 conference, where the goal is to have an Africa-centred panel as there has never been an area-focused panel focusing on development aid and humanitarianism in Africa. Organizers of the panel are considering the possibility of having a partially virtual format as that would allow for greater participation.
Digital media was central to a lot of the discussions that took place during the meeting. Dominique has recently collaborated with Nicolas Lépine, an Associate Professor of History at Lakehead University on Recipro – a collaborative teaching website, meanwhile, Jill undertook the important role of overhauling and modernizing CNHH’s website, which is currently seeking blog contributions.
In terms of future projects, suggestions for a larger, more comprehensive project that explores the history of Canadian development efforts and a project focusing on visual histories were discussed. Under normal circumstances, CNHH tries to partner with local NGOs from the region where the annual meeting is being held, however, with the current remote environment, any NGOs, regardless of their location, are welcome to collaborate. Sarah Glassford, an archivist at the University of Windsor, talked about the value of establishing connections with NGOs as these connections often become long-term partnerships.
This meeting served as a wonderful example of the ability to productively adapt to the turbulent times we are currently living in. Throughout the discussions taking place at this meeting, CNHH members demonstrated the many ways that our current remote and digital environment has helped to eradicate some barriers to participation and collaboration, bringing the development community closer together.
Anna Kozlova is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Carleton University. She was the lead researcher on the 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).”
The Eleventh Bulletin of the CNHH has now been sent out to the membership. If you missed it, the complete PDF of the bulletin can be found here: Bulletin of the CNHH May 2021 FINAL
It has been more than a year since the last bulletin of April 2020. We hope that you are all well and that you will continue to send news, posts and announcements.
I. PANEL AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The annual CNHH sponsored panel on “Making Connections with the Public: Alternative Approaches to Learning History” will take place on Monday May 31, from 11:00 to 12:15 Ottawa time, virtually. The program of the CHA virtual conference is here: https://cha-shc.ca/_uploads/6092c3d816fd7.pdf
*Featured image: Lewis Perinbam, 1987 (Source: Unknown photographer/LAC e999919839-u).
Public history is about taking history beyond the traditional academic setting and applying it to real-world challenges. It is history that is aimed at being accessible to the public. This is exactly what Anna Kozlova, a PhD Candidate at the Department of History at Carleton University, has been doing over the past several months in her MITACS-funded research 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)”.