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Humanitarianism is a highly-contested concept that for some critics exemplifies the organization of ‘white saviorism’ in the realm of formal institutions. For others, humanitarianism provides an ethical response to suffering by people who have lost faith in economic development and political struggle. In turn, humanitarianism can be analysed with a focus on the everyday and the individual; as a global apparatus (of oppression or solidarity or anything in between); or as a space or arena within which humanitarian action unfolds. A variety of apparently new actors have begun to populate that arena, increasingly including businesses that promise to provide technological solutions to long-standing humanitarian problems. These new actors and interests raise important ethical and methodological dilemmas in relation to the politics and practices of humanitarianism at a contemporary historical juncture where the calls to decolonize humanitarianism have come prominently to the fore. This panel engages with those issues with a specific focus on two interlinked areas: It firstly asks how everyday humanitarianism as a practice seen from below and above, and from the Global North and the Global South, can provide a means to foster horizontal solidarities. Secondly, it interrogates the politics behind technology or labour market-focused humanitarian action by the business sector and asks if such practices advance horizontal solidarities or cement vertical power structures and colonial imagery.
Session One - 4 November 13:30-15:00
Chair: Lisa Ann Richey
1. Advancing horizontal solidarity or long-term profit? The messy politics behind the German business sector response to refugee integration - Tanja Müller
2. Solidarity through informality: Reconsidering Syrian refugees’ agency in the labour market in Turkey - Can Cinar
3. Multi-national companies and the development of humanitarian technologies: What principles come first—and how does it affect the acceptance by humanitarians? - Isabelle Schlaepfer
4. Legitimacy, principled aid, and private sector engagement in humanitarian assistance - Chin Ruamps
5. Global connections in the politics of digital food assistance - Susanne Jaspars
Session Two - 4 November 15:30-17:00
Chair: Tanja Müller
1. The politics of humanitarian design
2. Finding the Sweet Spot: Corporate Tech Humanitarianism and the Politics of Win-Win Solutions in Refugee Aid - Sofie Henriksen
3. COVID vaccine response in Africa/ COVAX: Humanitarianism as charity - Hakan Seckinelgin
4. The Messy Practice of Decolonizing a Concept: Everyday Humanitarianism in Tanzania - Lisa Ann Richey and Consolata Rafael Sulley
5. The co-production of children’s health data through buzzwords: The problematic relationship between Safeguarding and consumer genomics - Kristin Bergtora Sandvik