By delving into the compelling new book by Keith Watenpaugh on the origins of modern humanitarianism in the Eastern Mediterranean, Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism, Ticktin’s essay explores a continued tension in scholarship on humanitarianism between the critical examination of humanity as concept, that is, the ethico-moral project of humanity as universal, shared suffering; and humanity as method, referring to an approach that relies on an assumed shared humanity with one’s research subjects, expressed through empathy and compassion. It argues for a different methodological approach, one that goes beyond humanity.

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