Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Menu Search our siteSearch
Search type

Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Cultures of humanitarianism

The cultures of humanitarianism strand is interested in the way that humanitarian interventions, practices and experiences are narrated, represented and performed.

It is first concerned with theatre and arts projects from sites of war and disaster as well as settings of urban violence. We also critically explore the way that disasters and vulnerable others are mediated to different international audiences - through writing, film, news broadcasting and alternative technologies such as video games.


Lisbon War Art

Our research explores:

  • how disasters, human vulnerability and humanitarianism have been narrated and represented over time, and how different modes of representation function within the global order
  • how humanitarianism appears beyond the sites of disaster and interacts with the political and cultural practices in states in, for example, Europe and North America
  • the effects that representations of disasters and human suffering can have on spectators, including feelings of solidarity, compassion, critical awareness and political activism
  • the role and impacts of celebrity humanitarianism and humanitarian campaigns more generally, including past campaigns, and how these representations in turn affect the delivery of aid and conflict response.

Project work

One of our current and past research projects includes the In Place of War project (funded by the AHRC 2004-2007, the Leverhulme Trust 2009-2011 and the AHRC 2012-2013) that has developed and analysed theatre and performance initiatives in war zones since 2004 and won the Times Higher Education ‘Excellence and Innovation in the Arts’ Award 2010.


Peter Gatrell, Maura Duffy, Tanja Müller, Gemma Sou, Bertrand Taithe and James Thompson.

PhD candidates

Rebecca Viney-Wood and Linda Sánchez Avendaño.

Key publications and resources

  • Gatrell, P. (2016). Free World?: The Campaign to Save the World's Refugees, 1956-1963. Cambridge University Press.
  • Müller, T. R. (2016) Representing Eritrea: geopolitics and narratives of oppression In : Review of African Political Economy. 43, 150, p. 658-667 DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2015.1111201
  • Müller, T. R. (2015) Universal Rights versus Exclusionary Politics: Aspirations and Despair among Eritrean Refugees in Tel Aviv In : Afrika Spectrum. 50, 3, p. 3-27 (open access)
  • Müller, T. R. (2015) Singled Out? Eritrea and the Politics of the Horn of Africa World Politics Review LLC. (World Politics Review) Commissioned report.
  • Taithe, B., Roddy, S., & Strange, J. M., (2015). The Charity-Mongers of Modern Babylon: Bureaucracy, Scandal, and the Transformation of the Philanthropic Marketplace, c. 1870–1912. Journal of British Studies, 54(01), 118-137.
  • Thompson, J. (2014) Humanitarian Performance: from Disaster Tragedies to Spectacles of War. Chicago: Seagull/University of Chicago Press.
  • Thompson, J. (2017) No more bystanders: ‘Grandchildren of Hiroshima’ and the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb. TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies. Vol 61:2 (T234), pp. 87-104