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Why Do We Still Intervene? Speculative humanitarians and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Monday November 20, 2017, at 13:30
Room Fred Halliday 24.133 (First floor). Mercè Rodoreda building 24
Research seminar

Pol Bargués Pedreny (IBEI)
Jessica Schmidt (University of Duisburg Essen)

Humanitarianism is assumed to be in crisis and yet, we wonder, why there is no retreat from international peacekeeping missions and, indeed, interventions are growing in number? Our central observation is that contemporary interventions must be understood as the result of two contradicting logics at play around the notion of difference. On the one hand, the victimized other is considered in need of aid and, on the other hand, the international humanitarian community has realized that they have little means to actually assist the other. In analyzing policy literature on the Syrian refugee crisis, we provide a reading of contemporary intervention that is caught up in both logics of difference. We argue that current interventions revolve around the idea of ‘being there’ where the intervenor neither disengage nor engage by setting particular goals.