Watenpaugh examines a transitional moment in the history of humanitarianism, finding its modern roots in the Levant at the start of the twentieth century. This essay examines the apparent novelty of the humanitarian response to the Armenian genocide and calls for a deeper consideration of the influence of earlier traditions on twentieth-century humanitarianism. Manasek points to a greater similarity between nineteenth- and twentieth-century civic efforts at humanitarian philanthropy, while viewing the nineteenth-century categorization of non-Muslim Ottoman populations as nations as a process of “unstrangering” that placed these groups in a familiar framework of European modernity. This process created a historically specific understanding of the “root causes” of human suffering and placed the development of a permanent regime in the hands of treaty-makers rather than individual humanitarian actors. The ensuing efforts at minority protection culminated in the twentieth century with the League of Nations’ minority rights regimes.
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Jared Manasek; From Roots to Stones: Interwar Humanitarianism and Historical Continuities. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2017; 37 (3): 624–630. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-4279320
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