Beyond Humanitarian Logics:Volunteer-Refugee Encounters in Chios and Paris

Stavinoha, Ludek and Ramakrishnan, Kavita (2019) Beyond Humanitarian Logics:Volunteer-Refugee Encounters in Chios and Paris. Humanity. ISSN 2151-4364 (In Press)

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This paper focuses on self-organized, grassroots volunteers who have emerged as key actors in the humanitarian response to Europe’s contemporary “refugee crisis.” Based on ethnographic research on the Greek island of Chios and in Paris and taking established critiques of humanitarianism as our point of departure, we explore how volunteers providing humanitarian care navigate the ethical and political dilemmas traditionally encountered by aid workers. More specifically, we ask: what kinds of social relations do volunteers enact through their practices and in their everyday encounters with refugees in and beyond refugee camps? How do the specific qualities of these encounters affect the possibilities of enacting alternative modes of humanitarian practice? Focusing firstly on volunteer-refugee interactions during camp distributions – the paradigmatic mode of humanitarian work – we explore how volunteers simultaneously mimic disciplinary humanitarian practices and engage in processes of ethical deliberation that inform more dignified forms of care. Secondly, we show how everyday volunteer-refugee interactions, formed within diverging spatiotemporal contexts of the two sites, lend themselves to exchanges of “biographical life,” opening up spaces for creative solidarities with refugees and more political interventions vis-à-vis the contemporary border regime. We conclude that commonly considered humanitarian logics of depoliticization and dehumanization are not guaranteed outcomes of volunteer humanitarianism. Instead, some of the volunteer practices and everyday encounters that we document hold the potential for more fluid and humane responses to an ever-changing landscape of refugee flows and containment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: refugees,volunteers,humanitarianism,migration,anthropology ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3314
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2019 15:30
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2020 23:38

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