Humanitarian crises - resulting from conflict, natural disaster or political collapse - are usually perceived as a complete break from normality, spurring special emergency policies and interventions. In reality, there are many continuities and discontinuities between crisis and normality. What does this mean for our understanding of politics, aid, and local institutions during crises? This book examines this question from a sociological perspective. This book provides a qualitative inquiry into the social and political dynamics of local institutional response, international policy and aid interventions in crises caused by conflict or natural disaster.
Emphasising the importance of everyday practices, this book qualitatively unravels the social and political working of policies, aid programmes and local institutions. The first part of the book deals with the social life of politics in crisis. Some of the questions raised are: What is the meaning of human security in practice? How do governments and other actors use crises to securitize - and hence depoliticize - their strategies? The second part of the book deals with the question how local institutions fare under and transform in response to crises. Conflicts and disasters are breakpoints of social order, with a considerable degree of chaos and disruption, but they are also marked by processes of continuity and re-ordering, or the creation of new institutions and linkages. This part of the book focuses on institutions varying from inter-ethnic marriage patterns in Sri Lanka to situation of institutional multiplicity in Angola. The final part of the book concerns the social and political realities of different domains of interventions in crisis, including humanitarian aid, peace-building, disaster risk reduction and safety nets to address chronic food crises.
This book gives students and researchers in humanitarian studies, disaster studies, conflict and peace studies as well as humanitarian and military practitioners an invaluable wealth of case studies and unique political science analysis of the humanitarian studies field.
About the Author
Dorothea Hilhorst is Professor of Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction at Wageningen University.