Search type

Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Talita Cetinoglu

Thesis title

'Humanitarian Programming: an inquiry into the ethical dilemmas of humanitarian action and the politics of practice'


Talita Cetinoglu

A key preoccupation of humanitarianism and its critique is the analysis of ethical dilemmas and showcasing how to improve humanitarian programming. The humanitarian debate is largely focused on displaying how humanitarian action fails as a result of ill designed programmes, irresponsible, unaccountable practitioners and the failing of “humanitarianism” as a global system of governance. This research project problematises the concept of “programming” and explores the role of programming enterprise in the production and management of challenges and dilemmas. As a case in point I study gender based violence programming and aim to delineate the ways in which legal constructs, policy formulations and practice statements interplay and how the programming work generates and handles competing truths, meanings and moral claims within this interaction. As a second line of inquiry I ask whether and how the “new humanitarianisms” offer an alternative framework for the humanitarian programming exercise. Focusing to Turkey, I display the opportunities and limits in innovating the humanitarian sector, its strategies and norms in general and in relation to questions of gender and protection in particular.


  • Bertrand Taithe, University of Manchester, HCRI
  • Eleanor Davey, University of Manchester, HCRI

Research interests

Over the course of my career in international development and humanitarian work, I have had the opportunity to engage in a variety of research activities in conflict settings, ranging from epidemiological studies, to household surveys, impact evaluation studies, programme reviews, assessments and context analysis. My research interests are primarily on humanitarianism: reflecting upon the following areas of research I aim to understand the dynamics of aid discourses, policies and practices

  • State humanitarianism and emerging humanitarian actors
  • Nationalist discourses and its performance sites
  • Gender, violence and conflict, policy-practice gap, politics of data
  • Norms, values, actions, dilemmas in assistance and protection programming
  • Narrations of humanitarian experience, stories of practice
  • Critical reading of humanitarian critique

Professional experience

I have over 12 years of experience in the humanitarian field in senior management roles working with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) where I also served as a member of the Board of Directors of MSF Greece section. I have led various emergency relief projects dealing with disasters, epidemics and medical care in conflict-affected settings primarily in the Middle East and in Africa. I directed and designed programmes on areas ranging from mental health, advocacy, protection, NGO security management, sexual and gender based violence and women’s empowerment. I have also led research partnerships with academic institutions, provided expert witness and advised international agencies and donors, and conducted consultancies.

Teaching experience

I have delivered and helped design numerous professional trainings and workshops on various aspects of humanitarian response. Additionally, I have instructed the following courses: 

  • Ethics, Human Rights and Health (University of Manchester, HCRI, 2015, 2016)
  • Global Health and Food Insecurity (University of Manchester, HCRI, 2015)
  • Research Methods in Humanitarian Settings (American University in Cairo, Forced Migration and Refugee Studies, 2007)

Previous education

  • Post-graduate Diploma on Forced Migration and Refugee Studies, American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt
  • Master of Arts in Sociology, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. Thesis titled ‘Izmir 1923: A Sociological Inquiry into Nationalism and the Economy Congress’
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey


Peer-reviewed articles

Murray, Sarah McIvor et al. 2015. “Stigma Among Survivors of Sexual Violence in Congo: Scale Development and Psychometrics.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence (October):1–24.

Hall, Brian J. et al. 2014. “The Effect of Cognitive Therapy on Structural Social Capital: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial Among Sexual Violence Survivors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” American Journal of Public Health 104(9):4–11.

Bass, Judith K. et al. 2013. “Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence.” The New England Journal of Medicine 368(23):2182–91.

Research papers and reports

Bass, Judith et al. 2014. Study of Effectiveness of a Social-Economic Intervention for Sexual Violence Survivors in Eastern DRC. Washington, DC.

Mosely, Sarah, Talita Cetinoglu, and Marit Glad. 2010. “Protection from Sexual Violence in DRC.” Forced Migration Review (36):14–15.

Cetinoglu, Talita, Pascale Delchevalerie, Véronique Parqué, Mit Philips, and Michel van Herp. 2004. Access to Health Care in Burundi: Results of Three Epidemiological Surveys. MSF Brussels.

Kogacioglu, Dicle, and Talita Cetinoglu. 2000. “Reading Together: Two Life Stories of the Republican Era.” in 11th International Oral History Association Conference. Istanbul: International Oral History Association.

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