One humanitarian club or many? The setting up of boundaries between and among humanitarian organizations

Panel details

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Number of paper presentations 3


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In light of changing environments in which humanitarian assistance takes place, such as increased insecurity in some of the regions where aid agencies work or the politicization and militarization of aid, humanitarianism is not only challenged, but humanitarians themselves set up boundaries between and within organizations regarding, for example, who is considered to be a “proper” humanitarian and who is not. Such classifications are made, for example, based on the mandate of an organization or its relation with governments or on the professional background of individuals. Such decisions are consequential because they might determine who is allowed to join informal or formal networks, meetings and enjoy the benefits of membership in the humanitarian club such as receiving relevant information or support. Yet, given the heterogeneity of aid agencies different clubs may emerge that might even compete with each other over resources in terms of, for example, access to beneficiaries or moral authority. This panel seeks to discuss various types of boundaries among and within humanitarian organizations, the ways in which they are set up and maintained and their consequences for individual aid workers, organizations and beneficiaries.

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Andrea Schneiker
University of Siegen