The Corona crisis as a humanitarian problem

Power structures, localisation and the study of humanitarian action

The Covid-19 pandemic and its response has brought power structures and cultural biases within the humanitarian scene to the forefront yet again, sparking discussions on differential treatment between local and international staff and on the global distribution of funds and equipment. Part of this picture is how the “corona crisis” is represented in the media as a “humanitarian problem,” and how policy-makers and practitioners are thinking about humanitarian responses in this setting.

This webinar examines the field of humanitarian studies as part of this broader picture. The field of humanitarian studies is itself criticised for being centred on the “Global North” and defined by Eurocentric perspectives. As a parallel to the agenda of “localising humanitarian aid,” efforts are being made at countering this tendency by including scholars and perceptions from “the Global South.”

By using the pandemic as a point of entry, this webinar explores how humanitarian crises are understood and interpreted in the field of humanitarian studies, and how voices from the Global South can contribute to better understandings.

In particular, this webinar discusses:

  • What would it take to ensure that humanitarian studies serve as a corrective to biased international responses?
  • What sort of knowledge and which organisational measures are needed to inform efforts at making the humanitarian system more globally representative and assistance more locally led?

Dorothea Hilhorst (International Institute of Social Studies) provides the introduction, folllowed by a panel discussion with speakers Mihir Bhatt (All India Disaster Mitigation Institute), Tanya Wood (CHS Alliance), Kristoffer Lidén (Peace Research Institute Oslo)

Held on 20 August 2020, this webinar was co-hosted by the International Humanitarian Studies Associated  and the NCHS.