Andrew Thompson: « Unravelling the Relationships between Humanitarianism, Human Rights and Decolonisation: Time for a Radical Rethink? » (09/02)

Andrew Thompson, de University of Exeter, présentera sa communication « Unravelling the Relationships between Humanitarianism, Human Rights and Decolonisation: Time for a Radical Rethink? » le jeudi 9 février de 17h30 à 19h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, 75006, salle D421.

Résumé :

« Humanitarianism, human rights and decolonisation: each, in their own right, have generated a substantial corpus of scholarship. As fields of historical enquiry humanitarianism and human rights have lately emerged. Decolonisation is an older historiography, which although stuck for some time in the doldrums, is now being revitalised. Decolonisation and humanitarianism have spun largely in their own orbits: one can read entire histories of decolonisation without coming across any reference to humanitarianism and vice-versa. The relationship between decolonisation and human rights has attracted more attention, yet with sharply contrasting views of the extent and consequences of their connection.

This paper will seek to unravel the relationships between three major historical phenomena, the encounter between which remains strangely obscure. The argument is that after 1945 humanitarianism, human rights and decolonisation were so closely entangled that their histories not only illuminate each other but are barely comprehensible when studied in isolation. The paper as a whole is framed around a critical dialectic that lay at the very heart of decolonisation, namely, on the one hand, how humanitarianism and human rights were shaped by the geopolitical regime that was in place at the end of empire, and that served the interests of Europe’s colonial powers, and, on the other, the effects of humanitarianism and human rights upon that geopolitical regime.

We will see how, at the intersection of decolonisation, the Cold War and post-war globalisation, a new generation of humanitarian and human rights groups found themselves assuming a much larger and in many ways unforeseen role in world affairs. Humanitarians and human rights activists hoped to change face of a decolonising world, but that decolonising world in turn profoundly affected what they were able to do and what they eventually became. »

Discutante : Mélanie Torrent (Université Paris Diderot)

Emily Baughan : « International adoption and Anglo-American Internationalism c1918-1945 » (15/12)

Emily Baughan, de l’université de Bristol, présentera sa communication « International adoption and Anglo-American Internationalism c1918-1945 » le jeudi 15 décembre de 17h30 à 19h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, 75006, salle D421.

Résumé :
« The plight of children became symbolic of the disintegration of European society during the First World War and the conflagrations that bookended it: the Armenian Genocide and the Russian Civil War. Breaking free from the laws of war presumed to undergird conflict in ‘civilised’ European societies, the violence of the early-twentieth century directly targeted civilians. In this context, children’s suffering took on a broader symbolic meaning, and ‘rescued’ children became a powerful metaphor for European reconstruction and hopes for a peaceful, prosperous future. Children – the workers and citizens of tomorrow – were essential for the future prosperity of their own nations, and, by extension, for the mutual security of the international order.  This article examines the centrality of children to the ‘new internationalism’ of the years following the First World War, as expressed by a host of prominent British and American humanitarian organisations. While international adoption and child sponsorship programmes seem, on the surface, to exemplify the spirit of progressive internationalism, this paper argues that they typified the often-regressive vision of interwar relief work. By helping children, humanitarian organisations sought to reinscribe older class-based and ethnic orderings of society in a chaotic post-war world. Child welfare programmes reveal the essentially conservative basis of Anglo-American internationalism in the interwar era. The ‘new world order’ that internationalist humanitarians sought to create was not new at all.