Crisis of Humanitarianism

Led by History professors Michael Geyer and Mark Bradley, this project explores the overlapping and contrasting histories, concepts and actions taken in the name of both human rights and humanitarian interventions. Activities during the 2013-2014 academic year included:

2013-2014 Graduate Workshop Series:
Humanitarianism and Its Relation to Human Rights

This Human Rights Workshop Series explored the issue of humanitarianism and its relation to human rights. See the list of past workshop presenters for full details.


In 2013-14, the project organized two conferences, supported by a fund established by Richard & Ann Pozen.

1) Forced Migration and Humanitarianism in Global History
November 15-16, 2013
Conference participants discussed the conceptual frameworks that have informed reactions to forced migration. The focus was how state and non-state actors have understood and justified their responses to the forced movements of people. What are those frameworks?  How have they evolved over time given changing conditions of migration, violent conflict and the global economy? The faculty coordinators for this conference were Professor Tara Zahra (History) and Lecturer Andrew Janco (Human Rights Post-doctoral Lecturer). Members of the University of Chicago and local NGO communities attended the conference as well. Downlad the conference program for more details.

2) Crisis of Humanitarianism/ Humanitarianism in Crisis Conference
April 25-26, 2014

This conference brought together scholars working on compassion, mobilization and power in humanitarian thought and practice in a variety of geographical spaces to interrogate the genealogies of the present moment and to reflect upon the future of a new politics of humanitarianism. Download the conference poster or program and schedule for more details.

Lecture Series: Human Rights Past + Present

This new series welcomed Professors Barbara Keys (University of Melbourne), James Dawes (Macalester College), and Stephen Hopgood (SOAS, University of London) to campus to give a public lecture about his/her recent book. See full event details here