- Workshop is on the third floor of University Hall on the IUPUI campus.
- Workshop runs from noon to 1:15 p.m.
Shai Dromi, PhD Candidate
& Lake Institute Dissertation Fellowship Award Winner
"The Origins of the Humanitarian Sector: Religion, War, and Charity."
Thursday, November 5, 2015
12:00 - 1:15 p.m.
University Hall, Large Conference Room, Rm. 3011, IUPUI
Humanitarian organizations often insist that they take no sides in conflicts and that this neutrality affords them special protection. In this talk I ask how the notion that humanitarian organizations must be an independent sector, which is neutral and impartial, became so fundamental for the relief community. I draw on my archival research on the late-nineteenth-century Red Cross, which was the earliest large-scale proponent of this idea. Archival documents show that the Red Cross drew on the Calvinist beliefs of its founders in order to formulate a specific vision of humanitarian work that values independence and neutrality. This vision appealed to multiple parties because it spoke to intersecting interests having to do with national moral character, the effects of war on civil society, and the expansion of the medical profession. Based on these findings, I argue that the contemporary field of humanitarianism was shaped through the intersection of religious ideals with public concerns and interests.