Author Archives: Thomas Brückner

About Thomas Brückner

Thomas Brückner studied at Free University Berlin, London School of Economics, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales History, Political Science and Sociology. He completed his doctoral dissertation on the relation between the ICRC and Switzerland in 2015 at University of Zurich. His book Hilfe schenken. Die Beziehung zwischen dem IKRK und der Schweiz 1919-1939 is about to appear (NZZ Libro). In 2013, he co-edited Die Basler und das Rote Kreuz – 125 SRK Basel. He works as head of communication for Swiss Civilian Service.

Humanitarian Spaces: Three Concepts for a History (Part 3)

This is part three in a series. See here for parts one and two. Oath and language: In my third and final example, I come to probably the most important element in structuring humanitarian spaces: language. It is in language that the connection between the spheres of humanitarianism, power, and politics becomes clearest. Here, I will not look at the meanings of the words or programmes of humanitarians; I am interested in the function of humanitarian language within the political sphere. In his work on Continue reading →

Humanitarian Spaces: Three Concepts for a History (Part 2)

This is part two in a series. For part one, see here. Part three will follow tomorrow. Structuring knowledge: If the Maussian concept can help to see social spaces with dynamic and asymmetric power relations, theories developed by Foucault can sharpen the understanding of the institutionalization of knowledge as a strategy of governance. In the field of humanitarianism the example is the standardization and dissemination of knowledge.[1] Many books have been written on missions and operations, but little research has been done on the development Continue reading →

Humanitarian Spaces: Three Concepts for a History (Part 1)

This is the first post in a series of three. Parts two and three will be published on subsequent days. In his book Empire of Humanity, Michael Barnett outlines some of the strengths and contradictions of humanitarianism using the notion of “empires.” First, he applies this notion to the definition of humanitarianism: “What distinguishes humanitarianism from previous acts of compassion is that it is organized and part of governance, connects the immanent to the transcendent, and is directed at those in other lands.”[1] The question Continue reading →