The International Humanitarian Studies Association is a network engaged with the study of humanitarian crises caused by natural disaster, conflict or political instability.

Making Wearables in aid: beneficiary bodies, technology optimism and humanitarian subject experimentation

Submitted by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik
For panel The World in Humanitarian Objects: Power, Change, Care and Control

This paper provides an initial exploration of an emergent type of humanitarian goods, namely ‘humanitarian wearables’ for tracking the health, safety and nutrition of aid recipients. The paper provides a brief account of the history of wristbands and similar, and offers an inventory of prototyped products. The paper then unpacks the contemporary making of humanitarian wearables at the interface of global health, population control and security agendas. Taking Sandvik, Lindskov Jacobsen and McDonald (2017) framework of humanitarian experimentation as the point of departure, the paper identifies and explores a set of ethical questions relating to the digitization of beneficiary bodies in aid.