Human Suffering and Humanitarian Response, with Craig Calhoun, Professor, New York University and Director-Designate, LSE

Lecture - 28/03/2012, IDRC, W. David Hopper Room, 150 Kent Street, 8th floor, Ottawa, ON, Global

Humanitarian emergencies are not simply brute facts that appeal directly to our emotions or our moral sensibilities. They are one of the important ways in which perceptions of human life, sympathy for suffering, and responses to social upheaval have come to be organized in recent decades. Responses to these emergencies are shaped by a history of changing ideas about what it is to be human; about moral responsibility for strangers; the structures of chance and causality; and the need and capacity for effective action, even at a distance. They reflect the context of the modern era generally, and more specific features of the era since the 1970s.

As professor Craig Calhoun argues, humanitarian emergencies are also embedded in a series of complex and institutionalized responses:

First, although they are influenced by both state politics and economic activity, they appear as anomalies outside the so-called normal, stable functioning of political and economic systems.

Second, they are largely produced through large-scale media systems, particularly visual media.

Third, they have commanded attention, especially since the 1970s, as responses to an era of market-driven globalization and declining faith in political action.

Fourth, they have brought about a new kind of response in which NGOs and voluntary action are pivotal (even though states remain crucial funders). They are also shaped by the way in which such response organizes both what we see and what actually happens on the ground.

Fifth, they reflect a view from relatively “core” locations in the modern world-system on what appears to be chaos in its periphery. This view is often linked to a technical orientation, an idea of charity, and the reassurance that suffering and chaos really is distant.

Please join us for his lecture, “Human Suffering and Humanitarian Response”

When: Wednesday, March 28, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: IDRC, W. David Hopper Room, 150 Kent Street, 8th floor, Ottawa, ON

The London School of Economics (LSE) has a very promising new Director. Craig Calhoun has been appointed, effective September 2012. He has been President of the New York-based Social Science Research Council since 1999. He is also Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Institute of Public Knowledge at NYU.

Calhoun’s research interests include historical sociology, political economy, social movements, social theory, and the history of social sciences. His new book, The Roots of Radicalism: Tradition, the Public Sphere, and Early 19th Century Social Movements was published by the University of Chicago Press. Among his best known earlier books are Nations Matter: Culture, History, and the Cosmopolitan Dream (Routledge 2007), and Nationalism (Minnesota 1997). He also recently edited a three-volume collection, Possible Futures (NYU 2011), which explores the impact of financial crisis, the challenges of global governance addressing issues from war to climate change, and the future of development.

Calhoun received his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He has been a professor and dean at the University of North Carolina, as well as a visiting professor in Asmara, Beijing, Khartoum, Oslo, Paris, and Berlin.

This event is free but seating is limited so please register.

French and English simultaneous interpretation will be available.

This event will be videotaped and available on our Website and YouTube.

For further information call 613 696-2101​

From 28 Mar 2012
Until 28 Mar 2012
Ottowa, Canada
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