Gender Equality and Culture in Humanitarian Action
Ricardo Fal-Dutra Santos
Movement ( Barnett,
2011 : 1). This system is the sphere where the arguments about respect for
other cultures have their most detrimental impact on the gender-transformative
potential of humanitarian action.
Humanitarianism’s Relationship with Cultures
Modern humanitarianism is bound together with colonialism and imperialism, shaped by
Western, Christian values ( Davey et
al. , 2013 ). Early humanitarianism embodied the salvation
opposition to coloniality, even
in the most ‘benign’ of research and policy areas, like international aid and
humanitarianism. Coloniality can be understood as the perpetuation of colonial systems and
technologies of domination into the present. As discussed by scholars such as Quijano,
Grosfoguel, Dussel and Ndlovu-Gatsheni, the concept of decoloniality encourages systemic and
historical analysis of the organised (re)production of injustice and mass human suffering.
Formal colonialism (which arguably existed from 1492 to the 1960s) and transatlantic
, requires a considered debate about data
Two further contributions engage with the specific field of medical humanitarianism.
Jafar, in her op-ed, takes the example of medical documentation to reflect on the
challenges that overseas medical teams face in acute emergencies. Issues around
security, ownership and sharing are pivotal when having to make decisions about
electronic records versus pen and paper – and much might be said for the former.
In an interview with the editors
the age of data colonialism ( Couldry and Mejias,
2019 ). 5
Wearables are understood as a form of ‘techno-science’ that contributes
to the production of legible, quantifiable and consumable bodies, and which makes
possible ordering practices that are materially productive of aid, but which may
also create new protection needs for the digital/physical beneficiary body ( Asdal et al. , 2007 ; Jacobsen and Sandvik, 2018 ). Little
critical scholarly attention has been
Frédéric Le Marcis, Luisa Enria, Sharon Abramowitz, Almudena-Mari Saez, and Sylvain Landry B. Faye
as predation, they
turn to violent words or deeds as a means to be recognised. This has been well
described with regards to youth politics in Conakry ( Philipps, 2013 ).
The contested nature of traditional authority in Sierra Leone is similarly emblematic
of state–society relations. British colonialism left behind a bifurcated
state ( Mamdani, 1996 ), with despotic
chieftaincies in the hinterlands and a central state without roots in society. The
.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/rwanda-state-research (accessed 15 February 2019).
Longman , T. ( 2010 ), Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda ( New York : Cambridge University Press ).
Mamdani , M. ( 2001 ), When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda ( Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press ).
Mason , T. ( 1981 ), ‘Intention and explanation: A current controversy about the interpretation of National Socialism’ , in Hirschfeld , G. and Kettenacker , L. (eds), Der ‘Führerstaat’: Mythos und Realität ( Stuttgart : Klett-Cotta ), pp. 21 – 40 .
Rever , J
’. The very idea of colonialism would be premised on the ability to mark out as racially inferior entire continents of people, who could be rightfully condemned, as indigeneity meant they were one step closer to the barbarism of non-metropolitan life. But even as the most enlightened liberal replaced crude biological determinants with its equally prejudicial cultural markers, so the idea that humans were still naturally violent remained the normalised truth regarding the history of the human condition and its political maturity. Hence, what remained was to question how
Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe
crisis was framed very much in terms of (anti-)colonialism. Irish missionaries, in
particular, liked to frame what was happening to the Biafrans as akin to what the
Irish had experienced in the British Empire. The spectre of famine was particularly
significant in this respect. The phrase ‘The Great Hunger’ –
which had been popularised as the title of Cecil Woodham-Smith’s hugely
successful 1962 book – was used repeatedly by Irish missionaries and NGOs in
relation to Biafra
); the COVID-19 pandemic only underlines how humanitarians, in our
certainty that we can be solutions to crises of all kinds, can exhibit an inability
or indeed unwillingness to perceive our own position within matrices of colonialism,
white saviourism and gendered power relations – we can literally become the
problem, bringing sickness with us from abroad to areas previously not affected by
There is a clear need for a different framing of security threats based on a more
The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in
This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates
it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific
context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with
the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection
leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive
since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance
research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in
2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still
on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in
connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human
remains are discussed.