Prof. Dr. Harald Fischer-Tiné ETH Zürich Geschichte der modernen Welt Rämistrasse101
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PD Dr. Alexandra Przyrembel Universität Göttingen Seminar für Mittlere und Neuere Ge- schichte Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5 37073 Göttingen firstname.lastname@example.org +49 30-25321557
NGOs, Religion and Humanitarian Actions in the Modern Age (1850-1950)
Prof. Dr. Harald Fischer-Tiné (ETH Zurich) PD Dr. Alexandra Przyrembel (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
Date and Venue
ETH Zurich, Switzerland September 5-8th, 2012
Topic and Questions
Around the middle of the 19th century, bourgeois men and increasingly also women started founding missionary societies and philanthropic clubs in and outside of Europe, which were frequently pursuing humanitarian goals in addition to their religious motiva- tion. These transnationally operating relief organizations embody the processes of glo- balization, which – as Jürgen Osterhammel points out – reach a preliminary peak at the end of the 19th century.1 Not only economic, political and cultural factors played a deci- sive role in the advance of global integration, but religious and philanthropic associa- tions were also crucial for the growing entanglement between the “West” and the “Rest” (Stuart Hall). These associations built up their transnational networks and developed a broad range of different measures of relief independent of governmental bodies, often however cooperating with them and rarely even openly opposing them. They decisively determined who was to be seen as especially in need of relief. Missionary societies, philanthropic and religious associations thus contributed significantly to the (re-) defini- tion of the social question within Europe by promoting a number of philanthropic activi- ties. Concurrently with proselytizing and salvaging “Heathens”, they implemented a
1 Osterhammel, Jürgen (2009): Die Verwandlung der Welt. Eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts. 2. Aufl. München: Beck.
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multitude of relief projects outside of Europe and thereby almost invariably intersected with the agendas and authorities of the European empires abroad.
The transnational co-operations of religious actors thus took part in the realization of global humanitarian relief programs. Two features should be noted here: First, the per- sistence of religious reasoning can still be observed in the 1970s.2 The measures de- signed in and outside of Europe as part of this reasoning were, secondly, reciprocally connected.3 Taking these observations as a point of departure, the workshop wants to address the following questions: Which actors were involved in the implementation of global as well as local relief measures? What was the significance of “gender” for these objectives, for the individual involvement of relief workers and for their reception through the “Needy” on the one hand, and the colonial and administrative actors on the other? What were the specific relief strategies devised by different organizations? What was the relationship between the practices and the rhetoric of helping? What was the reaction of state institutions, governments and administrative elites to the “europifica- tion” and globalization of relief by civil actors? How did other religions (Islam, Hinduism, Judaism) react to the challenges posed by the Christian missionaries’ global philanth- ropic effort? Was there an “interreligious” debate of relief, or rather a recourse to the own charity traditions? And finally, does the assumption that mission stations can be considered as “laboratories of modernity”, which influenced the structuring of relief ac- tions within Europe, prove as tenable?4
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2 This is the observation of Eckert, Andreas/Wirz, Albert, Wir nicht, die Anderen auch. Deutschland und der Kolonialismus, in: Conrad, Sebastian/Randeria, Shalini (ed.), Jenseits des Eurozentrismus. Postkoloniale Perspektiven in den Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften, Frankfurt/Main 2002, 372- 392, hier 386.
3 C.f. Harald Fischer-Tiné, Global Civil Society and the Forces of Empire: The Salvation Army, British Imperialism and the ›pre-history‹ of NGOs (ca. 1880-1920), in: Conrad, Sebastian/ Sachsenmaier, Dominic (Hg.), Competing Visions of World Order: Global Moments and Movements, 1880s – 1930s, New York 2007, 29-67.
4 C.f. Sebastian Conrad, Globalisierung und Nation im deutschen Kaiserreich. München 2006, 74- 123.
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Fischer-Tiné, Harald (2007): Global Civil Society and the Forces of Empire: The Salvation Army, British Imperialism, and the ‘Prehistory’ of NGOs (ca. 1880-1920). In: Sebastian Conrad und Dominic Sachsenmaier (Eds.): Competing Visions of World Order. Global Moments and Move- ments, 1880s-1930s. New York u.a., p. 29-68.
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