Calculating compassion: Humanity and relief in war, Britain 1870-1914

Calculating compassion: Humanity and relief in war, Britain 1870-1914

by Rebecca Gill


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Calculating compassion: Humanity and relief in war, Britain 1870-1914 by Rebecca Gill

The history of relief work is in its infancy. Calculating compassion draws on new archival research to reveal the priorities of nineteenth-century relief workers, and the legacies of their preoccupations for relief work today. Tracing the early history of familiar British aid agencies such as the British Red Cross Society (founded 1870) and the Save the Children Fund UK (founded 1919) - as well as those less familiar and now defunct - this book challenges any notion of a common 'humanitarian' ideal. Instead, it questions the current tendency to advocate a return to the clarity of founding principles by examining relief agencies' complex, and at times contentious, origins. Here are revealed the domestic anxieties which stimulated the organisation of relief for suffering strangers as well as the role of aid in the projection of British interests abroad.

Following intrepid individuals as they dispensed blankets and Bovril, first aid and pyjamas in the Franco-Prussian and Russo-Turkish wars of the 1870s, as well as British wars of empire in the Sudan and South Africa, Calculating compassion considers relief workers' enduring practices and habits-of-mind, and some of the unintended consequences of their efforts. Rather than simply responding to news of distant suffering, those delivering aid were instrumental in the stimulation of public concern - and here relief workers contributed to a politics of humanity which had lasting influence on the history of domestic and foreign politics in Britain. New bonds of solidarity were proclaimed but not all, it seemed, were equal in the brotherhood of humanity, whether at home or abroad. This book is intended for students, academics and relief professionals interested in placing relief work into its political and social context.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780719078101
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Series: Humanitarianism: Key Debates and New Approaches Series
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rebecca Gill is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Huddersfield

Table of Contents

Introduction: Calculating compassion in war

Part I. A new vocation: British relief in war: France, 1870- 71

1. The origins of British relief in war

2. Accounting for compassion: British relief in the Franco-Prussian war, 1870-71

Part II. Knowledge of suffering and the politics of relief: The Balkans, 1876-78

3. New humanitarian politics: 'victim' nations and the brotherhood of Humanity

4. Neutrality and the politics of aid in insurgency: British relief to the Balkans, 1876-78

Part III: The boundaries of compassion: humanity and relief in British wars, c.1884-1914

5. Scientific humanitarianism and British 'tyranny' in South Africa

6. The rational application of compassion relief, reconstruction, and disputes over civilian suffering in the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902

7. Neutrality, proficiency and the feminisation of aid: from the 'scramble for Africa' to the Great war

Conclusion: Humanity and relief in war and peace



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