The book examines the reasons behind accusations of dysfunctional humanitarian identities and the loss of space for impartial action. Through a combination of practical examples in case studies from the field with a theoretical and philosophical approach to questions of voluntary service, community and identity, it reconsiders the exceptional discourse that constructs these identities and drives humanitarian response in environments of complex emergency. By recognizing both the strength and the limits of its social and political agency, the study presents opportunities for the construction of a less exceptional space, or ‘niche’ within the humanitarian sector, where the politics is around one of an ordinary humanitarian society instead of an ordered humanitarian system.
Alasdair Gordon-Gibson worked for twenty-five years in the field of humanitarian response, mainly with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. He holds the degrees of master of philosophy and doctor of philosophy from the University of St Andrews.
Chapter 1. Humanitarian Relations
Chapter 2. Voluntary Service: Its Place in the Social Fabric
Chapter 3. Evolving Expressions of Humanitarian Space
Chapter 4. The Social Identity of the Niche
Chapter 5. Risks and Opportunities
Chapter 6. The Spirit of Humanity: A Universal Appeal
Chapter 7. Case Studies
Chapter 8. Re-Harbouring the Humanitarians
Chapter 9. Changing the Social Order