Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector

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Shai M. Dromi, Lecturer on Sociology, Harvard University
University of Chicago Press, 2020

Policymakers and activists often assume that humanitarian aid is best provided by NGOs, which are generally seen as impartial and neutral. In Above the Fray, Shai Dromi investigates how the international community has come to overwhelmingly trust humanitarian NGOs, when historically other forms of relief work were also valued. Drawing on archival research, Dromi traces the genesis of the humanitarian NGO sector to the mid-nineteenth-century Red Cross, and illustrates how its orthodox Calvinist beginnings shaped the policies that today govern the humanitarian field. Theoretically, Dromi argues for the key role belief systems play in establishing new social fields and institutions.

Link to the book on the publisher’s website: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/A/bo46479924.html (there’s a 20% discount for online orders until 3/15 using the code UCPNEW at checkout)

Link to my own website for more information: www.shaidromi.com

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