Based on a study of intersecting French archives (those of the Val de
Grâce Hospital, the Service Historique de la Défense and the
Archives Diplomatiques), and with the support of numerous printed sources, this
article focuses on the handling of the bodies of French soldiers who died of
cholera during the Crimean War (1854–56). As a continuation of studies
done by historians Luc Capdevila and Danièle Voldman, the aim here is to
consider how the diseased corpses of these soldiers reveal both the causes and
circumstances of their deaths. Beyond the epidemiological context, these dead
bodies shed light on the sanitary conditions and suffering resulting from years
of military campaigns. To conclude, the article analyses the material traces
left by these dead and the way that the Second Empire used them politically,
giving the remains of leaders who died on the front lines of the cholera
epidemic a triumphant return to the country and a state funeral.
A Review of Hilton Als’ God Made My Face: A Collective
Portrait of James Baldwin
This essay reviews Hilton Als’ 2019 exhibition God Made My Face: A
Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner Gallery.
The show visually displays Baldwin in two parts: “A Walker in the
City” examines his biography and “Colonialism” examines
“what Baldwin himself was unable to do” by displaying the work of
contemporary artists and filmmakers whose works resonate with Baldwin’s
critiques of masculinity, race, and American empire. Mirakhor explores how
Als’ quest to restore Baldwin is part of a long and deep literary and
personal conversation that Als has been having since he was in his teens, and in
this instance, exploring why and how it has culminated via the visual, instead
of the literary. As Mirakhor observes, to be in the exhibit is not to just
observe how Als has formed and figured Baldwin, but to see how Baldwin has
informed and made Als, one of our most lyrical and impassioned contemporary
writers and thinkers.
, during what Fernand Braudel called the ‘long sixteenth century’
(1450–1650), and it has since expanded continuously inside and outside Europe, with
particularly important ‘waves’ during the nineteenth century and the second half of
the twentieth century. Throughout this period, the European state system has conquered and
incorporated other continental territories, empires and peoples, which, bit by bit, have adopted
the rules of coexistence established by the Peace of Westphalia, declared in 1648, at the end of
the Thirty Years War.
The Peace of
what’s happening around the world today as if there haven’t been people…
theorising racism, nationalism, empire and gender for a century and warning of exactly what we
Moulded by Eurocentric knowledge systems, most of us react to such developments with utter
shock. We – an imagined citizenry of respectable democracies – are horrified and
appalled at how far we have been dragged from our liberal, more-or-less progressive self-image.
And we are invited to consider whether we might be witnessing the end of the liberal humanitarian
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
A Model for Historical Reflection in the Humanitarian Sector
Kevin O’Sullivan and Réiseal Ní Chéilleachair
Projects like these were vital in opening questions about institutional (and
sectoral) memory and communities of practice. Equally significantly, they grew in
tandem with a rich vein of historical research. Michael Barnett’s Empire of Humanity (2011)
broke new ground, and it was followed by diverse new histories of humanitarianism,
the development of new partnerships between NGOs and the writing of new histories of
humanitarianism in places like Exeter, Galway, Geneva, London, Mainz
The modern global humanitarian system takes the form it does because it is underpinned by
liberal world order, the post-1945 successor to the imperial world of the nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries and the global political and economic system the European empires created.
Humanitarian space, as we have come to know it in the late twentieth century, is liberal space,
even if many of those engaged in humanitarian action would rather not see themselves as liberals.
To the extent that there is something constitutively
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Humanitarianism ( New York :
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and Collaboration in Networked Economy and Society’ ,
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