New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity: Good Intentions on the Road to Help

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2017 Indiana University Press

Soaring poverty levels and 24-hour media coverage of global disasters have caused a surge in the number of international non-governmental organizations that address suffering on a massive scale. But how are these new global networks transforming the politics and power dynamics of humanitarian policy and practice? In New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity, Michael Mascarenhas considers that issue using water management projects in India and Rwanda as case studies. Mascarenhas analyzes the complex web of agreements ―both formal and informal―that are made between businesses, governments, and aid organizations, as well as the contradictions that arise when capitalism meets humanitarianism.

Author’s Comments

Part of what makes this current humanitarian conjuncture so extraordinary, I argue, is the way in which the convergence of finance capital, corporate philanthropy, social entrepreneurialism, and business management principles have converged and been reconfigured to solve the most pressing problems of modern society.  New humanitarianism signals the rejection of a universal right to relief in times of crisis, producing a new form of biopolitics where the growth of financial and information flows, and the popularity of philanthropy and entrepreneurship are increasingly reshaping both the politics of inequality and the attributes of dispossession.

This project is supported by a seven-year initiative of Indiana University Press and the Indiana University Center for the Study of Global Change, called Framing the Global.  The project seeks to support scholarly research and publication that will develop and disseminate new knowledge, approaches, and methods in the field of global studies.

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