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The Spread of Humanitarian Culture Across Borders

The Spread of Humanitarian Culture Across Borders

(p.61) Three The Spread of Humanitarian Culture Across Borders
Above the Fray
Shai M. Dromi
University of Chicago Press

The international Red Cross movement emerged at a period of rising nationalism in politics and culture, and yet the movement spread across borders with considerable ease. This chapter examines how the cultural structures and the organizational logics of the Red Cross to the international disseminated between the 1860s to the 1890s. It shows that processes of cultural production and of translation of meanings across national contexts mediated the transition from social movement to a broad social field. In particular, the first large-scale achievement of the movement - the Geneva Convention - afforded numerous parties in different nations with the language to problematize and criticize belligerents’ conduct, to classify specific populations as neutral or vulnerable, and to formalize the role of volunteer humanitarians. The chapter demonstrates that the growth of the transnational humanitarian field was facilitated by the resonance of its meaning structures with patriotic sentiments that were prevalent across late-nineteenth-century Europe and beyond.

Keywords:   Red Cross, Geneva Convention, Geneva Convention, Franco-Prussian War, humanitarianism, transnational social field, institutions, Congo Red Cross

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