A Dictionary of Humanitarianism
Edited by Tim Allen, Anna Macdonald, Henry Radice
Routledge – 2016 – 320 pages
A Dictionary of Humanitarianism brings together leading experts, including many of the critical writers whose work led to the establishment of humanitarian studies in the first place. The field of humanitarianism is profoundly characterised by uncertainty, by a constant need to respond with authority to the unpredictable. As such, this title serves as a key resource for all those grappling with the tensions and dilemmas of humanitarian action. In the open-source, largely digital culture that characterises contemporary humanitarianism, a dictionary that simply listed publically available descriptive information has relatively little added value. Instead, what is scarce, and therefore valuable, in contemporary humanitarian debates is authoritative analysis, particularly analysis that attempts to (re)define, rather than merely problematize, the issues at stake. This analysis is provided by A Dictionary of Humanitarianism.
A series of concise 5,000 word essays on key topics review recent debates and set out a clear argument about how each topic should now best be understood and defined. A selection of 3,000 word case studies adopt a similar approach. As such, A Dictionary of Humanitarianism not only serves as a valuable introduction to the work of key figures in the literature, but also represents a toolkit for those attempting to get to grips with the life-and-death problems humanitarians face on the ground every day.
Critical interrogation of the purpose and practice of humanitarian action has yielded a rich new field of enquiry, humanitarian studies, and many thoughtful books, articles and reports. Now, A Dictionary of Humanitarianism provides a tour d¹horizon of the current state of the art.