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Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Idealism beyond Borders - The French Revolutionary Left and the Rise of Humanitarianism

7 January 2016

Dr Eleanor Davey's new book on how modern humanitarian action was shaped by transformations in the French intellectual and political landscape from the 1950s to the 1980s has now been published.

Idealism Beyond Borders book cover illustration

The book reveals how radical left third-worldism was displaced by the 'sans-frontiériste' movement as the dominant way of approaching suffering in what was then called the third world. Third-worldism regarded these regions as the motor for international revolution, but revolutionary zeal disintegrated as a number of its regimes took on violent and dictatorial forms. Instead, the radical humanitarianism of the 'sans-frontiériste' movement pioneered by Médecins Sans Frontières emerged as an alternative model for international aid.

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