Secular and Religious Dynamics in Humanitarian Response: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Secular and Religious Dynamics in Humanitarian Response

1st Edition

By Olivia J. Wilkinson


128 pages

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Hardback: 9780367188337
pub: 2019-12-12
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This book investigates the ways in which the humanitarian system is secular and understands religious beliefs and practices when responding to disasters. The book teases out the reasons why humanitarians are reluctant to engage with what are seen as "messy" cultural dynamics within the communities they work with, and how this can lead to strained or broken relationships with disaster-affected populations and irrelevant and inappropriate disaster assistance that imposes distant and relatively meaningless values.

In order to interrogate secular boundaries within humanitarian response, the book draws particularly on qualitative primary data from the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The case study shows how religious practices and beliefs strongly influenced people's disaster experience, yet humanitarian organisations often failed to recognise or engage with this. Whilst secularity in the humanitarian system does not completely exclude religious participation and expression, it does create biases and boundaries. Many humanitarians view their secularity as essential to their position of impartiality and cultural sensitivity in comparison to what were seen as the biased and unprofessional beliefs and practices of religions and religious actors, even though disaster-affected people felt that it was the secular humanitarians that were less impartial and culturally sensitive.

This empirically driven examination of the role of secularity within humanitarianism will be of interest to the growing field of "pracademic" researchers across NGOs, government, consultancy, and think tanks, as well as researchers working directly within academic institutions.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: why secular-religious dynamics matter in the humanitarian system

2. The secular humanitarian system

3. How people affected by disaster understand religious dynamics in the humanitarian system

4. How Humanitarians Experience Secular Dynamics in the humanitarian system

5. Evolving secular-religious dynamics in the humanitarian system

6. Conclusion

About the Author

Olivia J. Wilkinson is Director of Research for the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. She publishes on humanitarian and refugee response, particularly around the role of local actors.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Religion and Development

The Routledge Research in Religion and Development series focuses on the diverse ways in which religious values, teachings and practices interact with international development.

While religious traditions and faith-based movements have long served as forces for social innovation, it has only been within the last ten years that researchers have begun to seriously explore the religious dimensions of international development. However, recognising and analysing the role of religion in the development domain is vital for a nuanced understanding of this field. This interdisciplinary series examines the intersection between these two areas, focusing on a range of contexts and religious traditions.

We welcome book proposals on diverse themes such as faith-based development organisations; religious players in health programming; proselytization and development; religion and the environment; gender, religion and development; religion and post-colonialism; and indigenous communities and development.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Series Editors:

Matthew Clarke, Deakin University, Australia

Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, UK

Nathan Loewen, University of Alabama, USA

Editorial board:

Carole Rakodi, University of Birmingham, UK

Gurharpal Singh, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Jörg Haustein, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Christopher Duncanson-Hales, Laurentian University, Canada

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Religion, Politics & State
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries