Chapter

Ethics in Translation

Alex de Waal

in Giving Well

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199739073
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855872 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739073.003.0008
Ethics in Translation

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This chapter takes an anthropological look at the principles, institutions, and practices of humanitarianism. The chapter finds that the ethics and norms inherent in the humanitarian encounter frequently reflect the fact that good intentions can have unintended and harmful consequences. This analysis looks at development programs, humanitarian efforts, human rights organizations, and peacemaking initiatives. It is argued that the ethics of humanitarianism may indeed be compromised as humanitarians engage with political reality. However, this engagement elevates politics overall. The principles and rules of humanitarian institutions can constrain power, and its adverse impact on philanthropy. In a case study of the Sudan, however, the chapter finds that Sudanese politics and society overwhelm and subvert humanitarian ethics and norms.

Keywords: anthropological; development; human rights; humanitarian ethics; humanitarianism; peacemaking organizations; philanthropic encounter; philanthropy; politics; power; Sudan

Chapter.  7123 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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