In the post-Cold War era, as civil wars and failed states have threatened people around the world, essays in Cultural Anthropology have examined the concepts, tropes, practices, and institutions of humanitarianism, the forms it has taken, and its cultural effects on its recipients as well as it providers. As global politics have become more perilous, and non-governmental organizations and bureaucracies of relief have multiplied, these essays have taken up some of the most complex questions of citizenship, displacement, and ethico-political responsibilities.
In a 1996 landmark article, "Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism and Dehistoricization," for example, Liisa Malkki wrote about refugee camps in Rwanda and Burundi, and the emerging forms of humanitarian intervention that focused increasingly on refugees as their "objects of knowledge, assistance and management." As China approached super power status in 2003, Matthew Kohrman examined how its vast bureaucracy treated disabled people; Kohrman focused on the biography of Deng Pufang, the paraplegic son of the premier who opened China to global capitalism. Two years later Didier Fassin examined the status of immigrants in post-9/11 Europe, as governments like France's shifted from lenient policies of political asylum to stricter ones of keeping refugees in camps where they became increasingly dependent on organized relief.
Cultural Anthropology essays of interest to researchers and teachers concerned with humanitarianism include the following:
The Impulse of Philanthropy
Cultural Anthropology Nov. 2009, Vol. 24, No. 4: 622-651
The Humanitarian Politics of Testimony: Subjectification through Trauma in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict
Didier Fassin Cultural Anthropology Aug 2008, Vol. 23, No. 3: 531-558.
Difficult Distinctions: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza
Cultural Anthropology Feb 2007, Vol. 22, No. 1: 129-169.
Supplemental material and Discussion
Crossbreeding Institutions, Breeding Struggle: Women's Empowerment, Neoliberal Governmentality, and State (Re)Formation in India
Cultural Anthropology Feb 2006, Vol. 21, No. 1: 60-95.
Doctors, Borders, and Life in Crisis
Cultural Anthropology Aug 2005, Vol. 20, No. 3: 328-361.
Supplemental material and Discussion
Compassion and Repression: The Moral Economy of Immigration Policies in France
Cultural Anthropology Aug 2005, Vol. 20, No. 3: 362-387.
Authorizing a Disability Agency in Post-Mao China: Deng Pufang's Story as Biomythography
Cultural Anthropology Feb 2003, Vol. 18, No. 1: 99-131.
Midst Anthropology's Problems
Cultural Anthropology May 2002, Vol. 17, No. 2: 135-149.
Nationalism and Resistance: The Two Faces of Everyday Activism in Palestine during the Intifada
Cultural Anthropology Feb 2001, Vol. 16, No. 1: 83-126.
"44Local Theory": Nature and the Making of an Amazonian Place
Cultural Anthropology Aug 1999, Vol. 14, No. 3: 323-360.
The UN Security Council, Indifference, and Genocide in Rwanda
Michael N. Barnett
Cultural Anthropology Nov 1997, Vol. 12, No. 4: 551-578.
Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization
Liisa H. Malkki
Cultural Anthropology Aug 1996, Vol. 11, No. 3: 377-404.
The Global Reservation: Notes toward an Ethnography of International Peacekeeping
Cultural Anthropology Aug 1994, Vol. 9, No. 3: 412-422.
The Song of the Nonaligned World: Transnational Identities and the Reinscription of Space in Late Capitalism
Cultural Anthropology Feb 1992, Vol. 7, No. 1: 63-79.
Metropolitan Africans: Reading Incapacity, the Incapacity of Reading
Timothy Maliqalim Simone
Cultural Anthropology May 1990, Vol. 5, No. 2: 160-172.
Welfare, the Social, and the Individual in Interwar Italy
David G. Horn
Cultural Anthropology Nov 1988, Vol. 3, No. 4: 395-407.