Avec frontières

The discourse of humanitarianism

Authored by: Adam Rostis

The Routledge Companion to Management and Organizational History

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415823715
eBook ISBN: 9780203550274
Adobe ISBN: 9781135918453


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Imagine an organized team of neutral doctors arriving during the Spanish attack on the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan in 1521 pleading with soldiers on both sides to spare civilians. The juxtaposition of what is now the taken-for-granted role of humanitarian physicians within an historical period unfamiliar with such a role indicates the “historical specificity” of humanitarianism and leads to the questions: “[W]hat is it about the present … that casts the care of strangers in such a leading role?” (Bornstein and Redfield 2007: 2) and how have humanitarianism and the humanitarian organization come to be accepted as inevitable, natural, and taken-for-granted?

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