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Fields of War and Humanitarianism


Module description

Fields of War and Humanitarianism is a unique interdisciplinary module that critically analyses the complex interaction between war and humanitarianism from multiple historical, geographical, political and cultural perspectives. It approaches war as a social totality that encompasses all manner of human processes and structures, and considers humanitarianism as an increasingly pervasive ideology, informing all sorts of collective social and political activity across the globe. Drawing upon scholars from across the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy’s constituent departments, the module will provide you with advanced knowledge of the concepts, theories, histories and policy implications of war and humanitarianism in the world today. Drawing on the fields of history, geography, politics, philosophy and psychosocial studies, specific categories, methods, problematics and experiences of war and humanitarianism will be conveyed and highlighted from a distinctive disciplinary perspective each week.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introducing War and Humanitarianism
  • The Global Politics of War and Humanitarianism
  • Soldiers as Humanitarians
  • The Ethics of Humanitarian Intervention
  • The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
  • Nationalism, Ethnicity and War
  • Engendering Debates Around Forced Migration
  • Humanitarian Photography: the Ethics and Politics of Representing Death and Injury from State-Sponsored Violence
  • Troubles in the Humanitarian Triangle: the Challenges of Communicating About and Acting on Knowledge of Humanitarian Crises

Learning objectives

By the end of the module, you will:

  • understand the trajectories of war and humanitarianism, both past and present, and appreciate the political tensions and social contradictions they generate across the world today
  • have learned to evaluate and critically apply the key literatures, concepts, theories and methods used in the study of war and humanitarianism within a plurality of disciplinary approaches
  • be able to connect, compare and contrast disciplinary perspectives on the interactions between socio-economic, political and cultural expressions of violence and cooperation across states and societies
  • be capable of historically informed, critical analysis of current political and scholarly debates surrounding the conduct of humanitarian interventions
  • have independently formulated and answered a research question on an issue related to war and humanitarianism, drawing from several of the disciplinary approaches introduced during the module
  • have acquired transferable skills, including critical evaluation, analytical investigation, written and oral presentation and communication.