From Relief to Rehabilitation
The History of Humanitarian Organizations’ Programmes on Behalf of Civilian Populations in the Aftermath of the First World War (1918-1930).
In this project, we examine the responses of international actors to some of the humanitarian crises that occurred in Europe from the end of the First World War to the early 1930s. We endeavour to understand the language, the rhetoric, the technology and the perception(s) of humanitarian actions. This projects draws from a wide array of archives and seeks to compare, contrast and critically reflect upon the documents. We examine the response to humanitarian crises that took place in Central and South-Eastern Europe, including Turkey, and, to some extent Syria, Lebanon, and the Trans-Caucasian region. The units of our historical analysis encompass inter-governmental, non-governmental and hybrid or semi-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, and even military expeditionary corps. The common denominator among the actors is the fact that they crossed national boundaries to lend assistance to strangers, civilian populations, and victims of armed conflict. It will also explore the trajectories of the individual relief workers. An examination of the correspondences, private papers and other documents allows for an insight into the experiences and journeys of these women and men. We examine the extent to which the humanitarian actions were intended to end with the termination of the emergency, or if they extended to encompass medium/long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. We also assess whether the activities of these organizations included the promotion of good governance or other peace building programs.
This four-year research project was launched in September 2008 and is entirely funded by the Fonds national Suisse de la recherche scientifique. The activities of the project consist of the publication of a monograph, organization of conferences, editing of books, publication of articles and creation of a network of scholars working on the history of international organizations. We have also collaborated with the following institutions: Centre of Transnational History, University of St Andrews, Stanford University and the Primo Levi Centre in New York.