Brendan T. Lawson

of knowledge production of transnational crime and armed conflict. Andreas Morten Jerven’s (2013) Poor Numbers lays bare the problems of African economic data and the ramifications that these uncertainties have for making conclusions about international development. Sally Merry (2016) , in The Seductions of Quantification , diligently and carefully documents the difference between rights-based indicators and the localised experiences of those

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Herb Boyd

As this essay notes, James Baldwin, his words and metaphors, pervade public space at countless numbers of intersections. Lines from his plays, novels, and essays have always been an easy and handy reference for writers and artists seeking ways to ground their intentions with deeper meaning and magic. Even in a minority opinion on 22 June 2016 written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she cited several authors, including Baldwin, to underscore her point on the Court’s abrogation of the Fourth Amendment.

James Baldwin Review
Therkel Straede

This paper traces the massacres of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war in November 1941 in the city of Bobruisk, Eastern Belarus. Sparked by a current memorial at one of the killing sites, the author examines the historic events of the killings themselves and presents a micro level analysis of the various techniques for murdering and disposing of such large numbers of victims. A contrast will be shown between the types of actions applied to the victims by the German army, SS, police personnel and other local collaborators, reflecting an imposed racial hierarchisation even after their death.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
A reassessment
Jon Seligman, Paul Bauman, Richard Freund, Harry Jol, Alastair McClymont, and Philip Reeder

The Ponar-Paneriai base, the main extermination site of Vilna-Vilnius, began its existence as a Red Army fuel depot in 1940. After Nazi occupation of the city in 1941 the Einsatzgruppen and mostly Lithuanian members of the Ypatingasis būrys used the pits dug for the fuel tanks for the murder of the Jews of Vilna and large numbers of Polish residents. During its operation, Ponar was cordoned off, but changes to the topography of the site since the Second World War have made a full understanding of the site difficult. This article uses contemporary plans and aerial photographs to reconstruct the layout of the site, in order to better understand the process of extermination, the size of the Ponar base and how the site was gradually reduced in size after 1944.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Arjun Claire

Evidence-based advocacy is all the rage in humanitarian action. It is premised on rational thinking, which posits that factual evidence can limit subjective bias in humanitarians’ call for change. Data has come to be a cornerstone of this turn towards reason, aggregating human stories in numbers and percentages, which when reaching an elusive threshold is expected to persuade decision-makers to act. This article claims that the prominence of data and facts comes at the cost of understanding people’s concerns and aspirations, and reveals an increasingly emotions-scarce and morally depleted humanitarian enterprise. Examining Médecins Sans Frontières concept of témoignage, the article argues that the pull between reason and emotion crystallises a more profound tension between the need for a professional and technical humanitarianism as opposed to a political and morally charged one. It concludes that the prism of solidarity can help reinvigorate humanitarian advocacy helping reconcile reason with emotion, combining practices of advocacy with those of activism, in turn creating the foundations of a more solidarist humanitarianism.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
The Politics of Information and Analysis in Food Security Crises
Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey

three additional countries suffered – or teetered on the edge of – famine, while rapidly increasing numbers of people faced acute food insecurity of a slightly less severe degree ( FEWS NET, 2017 ; IPC, 2020 ). ‘Famine’ has both human and political connotations. In human terms, it means destruction of livelihoods – to the point of destitution with large numbers of food-insecure people, increased severe malnutrition, disease epidemics, excess death and

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Humanity and Solidarity
Tanja R. Müller and Róisín Read

so move beyond what has been called the post-humanitarian age where solidarity has become a form of irony ( Chouliaraki, 2011 ). The second review article, by Lawson, centred around Joël Glasman’s recent book Humanitarianism and the Quantification of Human Needs: Minimal Humanity , picks up on the debates about evidence-based action and the numbers which have come to underlie it. Exploring the body of literature that has emerged to critically engage with quantification in the humanitarian

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
David Rieff

response is purely a matter of ethics, not of ideology. Doing so has been a mistake. No one who spends time discussing the migration crisis with European aid workers could leave such an encounter in any doubt about where they stand on the EU: they accept more or less everyone who wants to come, though some do so arguing that there is no migration crisis but rather a xenophobia crisis. Since nobody can predict with any confidence what the numbers of migrants are likely to be, this seems like an argument that plays into the hands of the xenophobes, and as

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Staff Security and Civilian Protection in the Humanitarian Sector
Miriam Bradley

by beliefs about differential levels of threat. Analysis of the data on attacks on aid workers mostly focuses on trends in the absolute numbers of attacks, comparing them across time and across country operating contexts. 3 To the extent that comparisons are made based on estimates of the rates of attacks on aid workers, these comparisons are with on-the-job death rates in hazardous civilian professions in the United States ( Stoddard

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Bert Ingelaere

of them, however, was convicted for genocide crimes. Blaming the one who was dead was more convenient and beneficial for them. In sum, the forensic truth only emerged with great difficulty, since it is highly problematic to establish the forensic truth on the basis of denunciations in a localised setting. Individual motivations and localised dynamics fostered the emergence of the effectual truth . At times it was even the composition of the collective, the power of sheer numbers, that deterritorialised the gacaca assemblage on hills such as the example

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs