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.

Graduate Workshop Series: Humanitarianism and Its Relation to Human Rights

The workshop series occurs throughout each quarter and includes common readings, graduate student presentations, and guest presenters. This year’s Human Rights Workshop Series will explore the issue of humanitarianism and its relation to human rights. Workshops meet on the even weeks of the quarter on Wednesday evenings from 5-6:30pm.  See the schedule and contact our Workshop Coordinator with questions or to request copies of papers.


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

  • Forced Migration and Humanitarianism in Global History (November 15-16, 2013):  The 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.
  • Crisis of Humanitarianism/ Humanitarianism in Crisis Conference (April 25-26, 2014): This conference organized by the Human Rights Program will bring 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 winter and spring, the project has organized a new guest lecture series, Human Rights Past + Present. HRP is pleased to welcome Professors Barbara Keys (University of Melbourne), James Dawes (Macalester College), and Stephen Hopgood (SOAS, University of London) to campus for this new series to give a public lecture about his/her recent book. Books will be for sale at each of the events. Event details here

  • Feb 13: Reclaiming American Virture: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s (Barbara Keys)
  • Feb 25: Evil Men (James Dawes)
  • April 1: The Endtimes of Human Rights (Stephen Hopgood)