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Introduction – Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy

HUMANITARIANISM AND SUFFERING: THE MOBILIZATION OF EMPATHY, Richard Ashby Wilson, Richard D. Brown, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2008

28 Pages Posted: 27 May 2011  

Richard Ashby Wilson

University of Connecticut School of Law; University of Connecticut

Richard D. Brown

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 24, 2008

Abstract

Humanitarian sentiments have motivated a variety of manifestations of pity, from nineteenth-century movements to end slavery to the creation of modern international humanitarian law. While humanitarianism is clearly political, Humanitarianism and Suffering addresses the ways in which it is also an ethos embedded in civil society, one that drives secular and religious social and cultural movements, not just legal and political institutions. As an ethos, humanitarianism has a strong narrative and representational dimension that can generate humanitarian constituencies for particular causes. The emotional nature of compassion is closely linked to visual and literary images of suffering and innocence. Essays in the volume seek to understand the character, form and voice of private or public narratives themselves and to explain how and why some narratives of suffering become part of political movements of solidarity, whereas others do not. Humanitarianism and Suffering is concerned with identifying when, how and why humanitarian movements become widespread popular movements, how popular sentiments move political and social elites to action and conversely, how national elites attempt to appropriate humanitarian ideals for more instrumental ends.

Keywords: Humanitarianism, Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Representations of Suffering

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Richard Ashby and Brown, Richard D., Introduction – Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy (May 24, 2008). HUMANITARIANISM AND SUFFERING: THE MOBILIZATION OF EMPATHY, Richard Ashby Wilson, Richard D. Brown, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1851965

Richard Ashby Wilson (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uconn.edu/faculty/profiles/richard-wilson

University of Connecticut ( email )

354 Mansfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-1176
United States

HOME PAGE: http://humanrights.uconn.edu/faculty_staff/richard-wilson/

Richard D. Brown

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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