312 pages | 41 B/W Illus.
This book provides the first historical inquiry into the quantification of needs in humanitarian assistance. Ultimately the book argues that we cannot understand the global humanitarian aid movement, if we do not understand how humanitarian agencies made human suffering commensurable across borders in the first place.
The book identifies four basic elements of needs: as a concept, as a system of classification and triage, as a form of material apparatus, and as a codified standard. Drawing on a range of archival sources ranging from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), and the Sphere Project, the book traces the concept of needs from their emergence in the 1960s right through to the modern day, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for "evidence-based humanitarianism". Finally the book assesses how the international governmentality of needs played out in a recent humanitarian crisis, drawing on detailed ethnographic research of Central African refugees in the Cameroonian borderland in 2014-2016.
This important historical enquiry into the universal nature of human suffering will be an important read for humanitarian researchers and practitioners, as well as readers with an interest in international history and development.
Introduction: Minimal Humanity: The Commensuration of Human Suffering on a Global Scale
1. Concepts. Elements for a genealogy of needology
2. Classifications. UNHCR and the legibility of refugees in Central Africa
3. Measures. Malnutrition, MUAC, and the materialization of anthropometry
4. Standards. The 'Sphere project' and the universalization of the vital minimum after Goma
5. Registration. Refugees and the emergence of a humanitarian field in Cameroun
6. Vulnerability. Impartial algorithms and analog malnutrition Conclusion: Infrastructures of commensurability
The Routledge Humanitarian Studies series in collaboration with the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) takes a comprehensive approach to the growing field of expertise that is humanitarian studies. This field is concerned with humanitarian crises caused by natural disaster, conflict or political instability and deals with the study of how humanitarian crises evolve, how they affect people and their institutions and societies, and the responses they trigger.
We invite book proposals that address, amongst other topics, questions of aid delivery, institutional aspects of service provision, the dynamics of rebel wars, state building after war, the international architecture of peacekeeping, the ways in which ordinary people continue to make a living throughout crises, and the effect of crises on gender relations.
This interdisciplinary series draws on and is relevant to a range of disciplines, including development studies, international relations, international law, anthropology, peace and conflict studies, public health and migration studies.
To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (Helena.Hurd@tandf.co.uk).
Alex de Waal, Tufts University, USA
Dorothea Hilhorst, Wageningen University, The Netherlands