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Workshop on Anthropology and Humanitarian Crisis: A thought experiment

Location: Royal Anthropological Institute, 50 Fitzroy Street, London, W1T 5BT
Date: 11th November 2015
Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Convenor: Professor Raymond Apthorpe
Contact: Gemma Aellah, RAI Research Officer, gaellah@therai.org.uk

This workshop is part of an on-going project on Anthropology and Humanitarian Crisis convened by Professor Raymond Apthorpe in collaboration with the RAI Research Officer, Gemma Aellah. The project is an exploration of the contribution anthropology can make to thinking and action in humanitarian crisis response, and of innovative ways to bring together academic and practitioner knowledge. The workshop continues an effort to solidify an open collaborative research community around this endeavour.

The last few years have seen a surge in humanitarian crises around the world and massive funding shortfalls. There are calls for a shift to more anticipatory approaches and a need for tools to promote deeper understandings of context. But this is a complex task.  Anthropology – the study of what it means to be human – has a long history of studying change and continuity in crisis situations around the world. What can be learnt from anthropology about what, specifically, breaks down in crisis situations? What doesn’t? How do the people affected handle things in crisis situations? Can anthropological insights assist in some level of prediction? And, crucially, what is the most effective way to utilise and package anthropological information to assist the work of humanitarian practitioners in emergencies?

We are interested in whether anthropology can have a general, overarching, contribution to thinking in humanitarian crisis response.  Our one day roundtable workshop aims to kick-start future collaboration by bringing together anthropologists and humanitarian practitioners in an experimental thought experiment that we hope will help us to tackle such questions:

How can lessons learned from international humanitarian crisis response – and from anthropological studies of change and continuity in crisis across the world – be applied to the current European refugee crisis?

By having this question running through the workshop we want to enable specialists from different sectors, disciplines and parts of the world to talk productively together and to move discussions effectively from the specific to the general.

Participation in the workshop

Participation is through both invitation and open application. But in order to allow for plenty of discussion and a round-table feel we have a limited number of spaces. Participation is free and some funding may be available for travel costs.  Lunch will be provided. Please contact Gemma Aellah, the RAI Research Officer on gaellah@therai.org.uk about attending.

Download full information about the workshop here.

Outcomes and future developments from the workshop will be posted on https://anthrohum.wordpress.com.

To join the Anthropology and Humanitarian Crisis group’s mailing list sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bD6Qs9

This workshop is part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2015, a celebration of the social sciences that takes place across the UK. The workshop is one of 3 collaborative RAI events in the Festival:
10th November 2015: RAI Ethnomusicology – RAI Blacking Lecture
10th November: The Anthropology of Health in Africa