The Politics of Humanitarianism

Didier Fassin

Perspectives on Humanitarianism Lecture Series
Sponsored by International Studies Program

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
4:45 p.m.

The International Studies Program is pleased to present the Perspectives on Humanitarianism Lecture Series of five talks this spring. This is the third talk in the series.

In the face of the world’s disorders, moral concerns have provided a powerful ground for developing international as well as local policies. Didier Fassin draws on case materials from France, South Africa, Venezuela, and Palestine to explore the meaning of humanitarianism in the contexts of immigration and asylum, disease and poverty, disaster and war. He traces and analyzes recent shifts in moral and political discourse and practices — what he terms “humanitarian reason”— and shows in vivid examples how humanitarianism is confronted by inequality and violence. Deftly illuminating the tensions and contradictions in humanitarian government, he reveals the ambiguities confronting states and organizations as they struggle to deal with the intolerable. His critique of humanitarian reason, respectful of the participants involved but lucid about the stakes they disregard, offers theoretical and empirical foundations for a political and moral anthropology.

Didier Fassin is Professor of Anthropology at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University and the former Vice President of Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). His book Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present won honorable mention for the 2012 Gregory Bateson prize in the Society for Cultural Anthropology.

Co-sponsored by the  International Studies Program, CLAS, the Laura & Ralph Mueller Endowment for Islamic Studies Lecture, Academic Innovation Fund, Dept. of Anthropology and Dept. of Earth and Environment

This event is open to the public.

Free; no tickets required.

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