case studies, such as
Ireland, Austria and Italy, and an emphasis on narratives of
reconstruction, productivity and national identity. 14 The case of Greece and the
humanitariannarratives of the MP films at large have been underexplored
so far. By concentrating on the MP films about Greece, my aim is to
correlate their discourse of reconstruction with the narrative of
humanitarianism and to
overcome the politics of borders ( Johnson,
2011 ; Malkki, 1996 ; Rajaram, 2002 ), or the contribution of visual
media to ideologies embedded in humanitariannarratives, from the human rights framework
to colonialism, nationalism, and imperialism ( Briggs,
2003 ; Dogra, 2012 ; Lydon, 2016 ; Sliwinski, 2011 ).
In this special issue, we build on such scholarship by inquiring into the role that
specific media such as photography, film, graphic materials, or museums
The Visual Politics and Narratives of Red Cross Museums in Europe and the
United States, 1920s to 2010s
evolved into important narrative agents of the movement.
Taking a particular interest in the entanglements between visual display and
narrative, the following sections argue that Red Cross museums have shaped, changed,
and formulated their own humanitariannarratives throughout the twentieth century.
The first section starts out by first describing the origins of the institution of
Red Cross museums, with a particular focus on the museum of the American Red Cross
An Interview with Rainer Schlösser, Spokesperson of the Association of the Red Cross Museums in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Rotkreuz-Museen)
An accomplished academic, collector, and long-time Red Cross volunteer, Professor Dr Rainer Schlösser is head of the Red Cross Museum of the Red Cross Chapter Fläming-Spreewald in Luckenwalde. He has directed the museum since 2000. Since 2006, he has also served as official spokesperson of the Association of the Red Cross Museums in Germany, a group connecting thirteen Red Cross museums across Germany. I met Rainer Schlösser in his office at the Red Cross Museum in Luckenwalde. After an extended and insightful tour through the museum we sat down to discuss his ideas and his work at the museum.
being a humanitarian
worker has never been so complex and dangerous. Many humanitariannarratives are fuelled
by the fears of organisations: they see their working space reduced under the joint
pressure of states increasingly asserting their sovereignty and of more frequent
security incidents due to direct targeting, all happening in the context of widespread
erosion of international norms ( Shaheen,
2016 ; Bouchet-Saulnier and Whittall,
2019 ; UN Security Council
HumanitarianNarrative ’, Humanity: An
International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and
Development , 2 : 2 ,
161 – 70 .
Medie , P.
Kang , A.
J. ( 2018 ),
‘ Power, Knowledge and the Politics of Gender in the
Global South ’, European Journal of Politics
and Gender , 1
Lewis Hine’s Photographs of Refugees for the American Red Cross, 1918–20
Sonya de Laat
a white savior as visual iteration of the familiar humanitariannarrative. There was also a strong gendering to the ARC’s iconography: women – and more specifically nurses – served as allegorical figures that helped to frame the ARC as an agency of caring nurturers, or embodiments of ‘The Greatest Mother in the World’ ( Irwin, 2013 : 86). Among the first pictures the ARC reproduced of Hine’s were those of the American Red Cross Child Welfare Exhibition at St. Etienne, American soldiers resting and recuperating at ARC hospitals, and warehouses professionally
spruced and curated patient testimonies combined with the
technical legitimacy offered by medical data are made to fit a de-politicised
humanitariannarrative. As such, the irony of steep growth in communications and
advocacy positions within MSF overlapping with creeping conservatism in speaking out
is not lost. Yet, it spurred the growth of public advocacy in the wider humanitarian
sector: from public denunciation to combining emotions (patient testimonies) with
Writing about Personal Experiences of Humanitarianism
Róisín Read, Tony Redmond, and Gareth Owen
justice to all that, whilst also being an entertaining read.
RR: Following on from that, many of the more prominent humanitarian memoirs, certainly historically, have been written by men, often towards the end of their careers, and often from the Global North, which creates a particularly gendered and racialised humanitariannarrative. I would be interested in hearing your reflections on whether you think that is the case, and what the implications of it might be for the humanitarian sector?
TR: Guilty as charged. Writing a memoir at the end of your career seems
Visual Advocacy in the Early Decades of Humanitarian Cinema
, humanitarian movies advocated with persuasion (why should we help) and mobilization (how to help), but without denouncing the political roots or implications of the crises. However, some were more political or accusatory because of the controversies they raised. Whereas ICRC, Red Cross and Quakers movies used a humanitariannarrative highlighting ameliorative action ( Laqueur, 1989 ), a few particularly focused on abuses or graphic details of the body in pain. NER’s Auction of Souls was the most political, denouncing the Turkish portrayed as the oppressors; many scenes of