17 October 2005

Comments on Picturing Humanitarianism

As part of my day job I have recently taken over as Editor of a journal published by the American Political Science Association called Perspectives on Politics - today we sent off the proofs for the December 2005 issue that contains a provocative article (accepted by my predecessor in the editorial position lest you think I am being too promotional here) by Michael Barnett entitled "Humanitarianism Transformed." Among his observations:

"In the camps in Zaire following the Rwandan genocide, humanitarian groups rushed to the scene in order to show the flag and impress funders back home. Working in an orphanage photographs well and brings in revenue, but building clean latrines and sanitation systems does not - even though it is equally if not more essential for saving lives. ... De Waal posits a Gresham's Law for humanitarianism: bad humanitarian action can crowd out good action because hmanitarian organizations are rewarded for being seen rather than for saving lives."

Barnett's essay is followed by an insightful reply/comment by Janice Stein "Humanitarianism as Political Fusion."


Blogger David Watkins said...

That sounds pretty interesting, and I hope I don't actually have to wait until December 2006 to read it. I'm assuming you mean 2005, unless my sense of academic journal-time is deeply distorted?

17 October, 2005 23:57  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Sorry, Yes, I meant december 2005! Academic publishing screwed up but not quite that badly!

18 October, 2005 14:37  

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