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Clark University Home > Academic Catalog

Clark University    
  Jan 22, 2018
2017-2018 Academic Catalog

IDCE 30243 - Seeing Like a Humanitarian Agency

Since World War II, several different but overlapping regimes have emerged to help structure humanitarian responses to large-scale forms of displacement. In what ways do these evolving regimes enable humanitarian agencies to “see,” and in what ways does their particular field of vision differ from that of states, academics, policymakers and the displaced themselves? What kinds of blind-spots (theoretical, methodological, and ethical) inevitably result? This seminar will explore these questions from three different vantage points, each composing one part of the course as a whole. Part one will provide an overview of the literature and the main concepts of the course. Special attention is focused on the ways scholars and policymakers have historically constructed displacement as a “problem” either for analysis or action, and how these concerns have shifted over the past three decades. Part two will consist of ethnographic studies of humanitarian interventions in different geographic settings, which will highlight the relevance (and limits) of concepts and methods drawn from the social sciences, including anthropology. Part three will address some of the opportunities and dilemmas humanitarian emergencies present for those who wish to study or to manage them.