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Cornell University    
  Feb 22, 2018
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ANTHR 4165 - [Anthropology of Humanitarianism]

(GB) (CA-AS)      
Spring. Next offered 2016-2017. 4 credits.

C. Garces.

It is commonplace to hear that we live in a humanitarian age, but to what extent is humanitarianism coextensive with global and cultural politics today? This seminar will explore how institutions and governments identify “states of emergency” in order to safeguard populations and political alliances. Our readings will problematize gift exchange and the logic of sacrifice across charitable, philanthropic, and peacekeeping efforts. Key topics include the gendered dynamics of aid distribution; the impact of philanthropy on private-public balances of power; the role of displaced populations as biopolitical communities; and the democratic applications of charity to mask imperial resemblances. We will together challenge the ethical knot of using “voluntary actions” as the basis of normative political systems, highlighting contingencies and exploring paradoxes in humanitarian endeavors.

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