Open Access (free)
Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Alexandra Cosima Budabin
and
Lisa Ann Richey

This forum brings together a diverse group of scholars from political geography, international relations, critical organisation studies, global development, international studies and political sociology to explore the debates and dynamics of celebrity engagement with development and humanitarianism. The contributions here come from a series of roundtables organised in 2021, including one at the 6th World Conference on Humanitarian Studies of the International Humanitarian Studies Association in Paris that discussed the findings and insights of the book Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development (University of Minnesota Press, 2021).

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Lisette R. Robles

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a complicated challenge embedded in displaced people’s lived experiences throughout the conflict displacement cycle. Despite the awareness of existing institutionalised help-seeking referral pathways, these do not necessarily translate to the full utilisation of such services. This paper examines the critical role of refugee leaders and service providers in potentially enabling and realising a GBV survivor’s help-seeking. By adapting a meso-level analysis, it attempts to explain how social networks built within conflict and displacement contribute to responding to GBV. Based on the review of collected interviews in 2019 from refugee leaders and service providers working with South Sudanese refugees in selected settlements in Uganda, the paper reflects on the importance of network, norms and trust in effectively responding to GBV in conditions of conflict-affected displacement.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Phoebe Shambaugh
and
Bertrand Taithe
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
What Lessons Can Be Drawn from Case Studies in France, the United States and Madagascar?
Hugo Carnell

Despite its long history, plague has not been an internationally significant disease since the mid-twentieth century, and it has attracted minimal modern critical attention. Strategies for treating plague are generally outdated and of limited effectiveness. However, plague remains endemic to a few developing nations, most prominently Madagascar. The outbreak of a major plague epidemic across several Madagascan urban areas in 2017 has sparked a wider discourse about the necessity of improving global preparedness for a potential future plague pandemic. Beyond updating treatment modalities, a key aspect of improving preparedness for such a pandemic involves a process of sophisticated review of historical public health responses to plague epidemics. As part of this process, this article outlines and compares public health responses to three separate epidemics from the early modern era onwards: Marseille in 1720–22, San Francisco in 1900–04 and Madagascar in 2017. Based on this process, it identifies three key themes common to successful responses: (1) clear, effective and minimally bureaucratic public health protocols; (2) an emphasis on combating plague denialism by gaining the trust and cooperation of the affected population; and (3) the long-term suppression of plague through the minimisation of contact between humans and infected small mammals.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Synchronicity in Historical Research and Archiving Humanitarian Missions
Bertrand Taithe
,
Mickaël le Paih
, and
Fabrice Weissman

This roundtable was convened on 5 July 2022 and built on five years of collaborative work in Cambodia and ongoing collaborations within the Centre de Reflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires (CRASH) at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) between Bertrand Taithe, Mickaël le Paih and Fabrice Weissman. The central question raised in this discussion relates to two profoundly intermeshed issues for humanitarian practitioners and organisations: the use of history for humanitarian organisations, and the need for them to preserve and maintain archives.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Sara Wong

This article explores some of the challenges, learnings, reflections and opportunities involved in collaborating with grassroots artist collectives in conflict-affected places in academic settings. Using as a case study the collaborative production of the animated short film ‘Colombia’s Broken Peace’, as part of a wider international research project, I reflect on our experiences in co-producing this piece by drawing out lessons that might be relevant for others interested in undertaking similar inter-disciplinary work. In doing so, I aim to re-frame notions of ‘impact’ and ‘capacity building’ in conflict research to a more complex picture of mutual learning and knowledge exchange.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Gender Norm Change during Displacement?
Michelle Lokot

International humanitarian actors, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies, often focus on gender norm change when conducting gender analysis among refugees and internally displaced persons. Dominant humanitarian narratives about gender in research reports, assessments and technical guidance reveal an underlying belief that displacement is causative – an external, intervening force. In such analysis, colonial and neoliberal ideologies may influence how refugees’ lives are represented, resulting in depictions of lack of modernity, tradition and culture as overarching (yet ill-defined) forces, and women and girls as vulnerable by default. Such analysis is frequently ahistorical, presented without analysis of the pre-displacement situation. This paper explores and challenges humanitarian narratives about gender norm change during displacement. It is based on feminist ethnographic research in Jordan with Syrian women and men as well as interviews with humanitarian workers. The paper demonstrates that assumptions about lack of empowerment of Syrian women and men may be misguided, identifying both subtle and more overt forms of Syrian women’s and men’s resistance’ to expected norms. It urges humanitarian actors to use ‘resistance’ as an alternative to analysing ‘change’, recognise heterogeneity within populations, resist ‘rapid’ data collection, challenge paternalistic and colonial stereotypes, and reflect complexity in analysis.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
From “mathematical jewel” to cultural connector
Pedro M. P. Raposo

The planispheric astrolabe is one of the most exquisite and alluring scientific instruments ever produced. At once an analog astronomical computer and an observing instrument that is finely decorated, the astrolabe enjoyed its heyday in the premodern Mediterranean, in areas under the influence of Islamic cultures. Knowledge of the instrument eventually reached Europe through the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula, giving rise to its widespread use, which peaked during the sixteenth century. Long regarded as a key witness to the mathematical science of plotting courses on land as on sea, in recent years the astrolabe has been increasingly approached as an artifact that bridges cultures and testifies to the movements of people, knowledge, and goods across early modern Europe. The chapter presents a brief historiography of the astrolabe in order to reflect on its public exhibition over recent decades. This reflection is based on the daily curatorial practices of a major collection at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. Such displays of the astrolabe help to makes early modern patterns of migrations conceivable – and visible today.

in Migrants shaping Europe, past and present
Open Access (free)
A short history of immigration deterrence at the French–British border
Vincent Joos
and
Eric Leleu

On October 25, 2016, French anti-riot police evicted thousands of migrants who had settled in an abandoned landfill adjacent to the port of Calais. Hundreds of makeshift houses and tents of the so-called “Calais jungle” were bulldozed or burned while the police forced migrants to board buses that would take them to asylum centers scattered across the French countryside. In the meantime, British authorities started the construction of the “Great Wall,” a one-kilometer long and four-meter high anti-intrusion barrier alongside the highway that leads to the port of Calais. Domicides and infrastructures intended to segregate migrants from French citizens are not new to the region. This chapter argues that present racialized patterns of mobility and the infrastructure enabling the segregation of people upon citizenship regimes in the Calais region were established long ago, when the French state managed the first wave of non-European migration in the region during World War I. The chapter first explores how thousands of Chinese indentured workers who toiled for the French and British army in northern France between 1917 and 1920 were deterred from settling in this region. Police brutality, racial segregation, and criminalization of solidarity are some of the practices established to deter nonwhite people from settling in the Calais region. From this historical perspective, the chapter then explores the institutionalized racism that structures current anti-immigration policies (in France and in the UK) and the proliferation of deterrence infrastructure in the Calais region.

in Migrants shaping Europe, past and present