Hierarchies of Humanity

Didier Fassin

in Humanitarian Reason

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520271166
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950481 | DOI:
Hierarchies of Humanity

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This chapter discusses how within the arena of humanitarianism itself, hierarchies of humanity are passively established where the expatriate aid workers are provided with due protection whereas the aid workers from the recipient society are paradoxically excluded from this protection. It discusses the decision of the French chapter of Médecins Sans Frontières' to remain in Baghdad during the onset of Iraq War which finally exposed the politics of life in humanitarian actions. By exposing themselves to danger during the bombings, the French team raised the question of the equality of lives in a concrete and immediate way to show that life is equally vulnerable for the Iraqis and for the humanitarian agents assisting them. Similarly the military forces that intervene in international conflicts in the name either of country or of higher concerns also do not reject the idea and sentiment of humanity in principle, however, their practice of according value to lives calls it into question.

Keywords: humanitarianism; hierarchies of humanity; Médecins Sans Frontières; Iraq War; international conflicts

Chapter.  9041 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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