Forces of Compassion
Humanitarianism Between Ethics and Politics
Edited by Erica Bornstein and Peter Redfield
Suffering and charity have a long history. Both human sorrows and attempted remedies were familiar features of life in earlier eras and religious traditions, however, during the final decades of the twentieth century, natural disasters and civilian casualties of war transformed into “humanitarian crises.” In these recurring dramas presented by international media, an extensive network of interstate entities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) supplies assistance to victims. The contemporary aid world is a mosaic of aid sectors, each skewed slightly toward a particular aspect of need and action. The development sector focuses on alleviating poverty, while the human rights sector aims to rectify identifiable wrongs. Humanitarianism directly addresses physical and psychological suffering. The contributors to Forces of Compassion examine this sector through the lens of anthropology, looking at dominant practices, tensions, and beliefs.
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