WEBINAR: Mellon Sawyer Humanitarianisms Webinar w/ Jessica Whyte & Emma Meyer | University of Washington | December 3, 2020

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The 2020-21 Mellon Sawyer Seminar at the University of Washington’s Simpson Center for the Humanities focuses on the history of forced migrations within and across the Global South (especially East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Mediterranean). Through this project, we seek to decolonize the rhetoric and understanding of humanitarianism by examining the histories of forced migration and practices of humanitarian care for forced migrants, including both “conventional” and “humanitarian” refugees, that developed outside of Europe and North America. In order to do so, we propose a comparative examination of these issues through three thematic clusters—Decentering Migration and Decolonizing Humanitarianism, Comparative Humanitarianisms, and Rethinking the Human—each of which builds on the previous cluster and thus creates threads of inquiry that will frame a public speaker series and the work of a faculty and graduate student research group.
The fall speaker series Decentering Migration and Decolonizing Humanitarianism will show that humanitarian practices do not emerge from a singular genealogy. Our attention to migration in these regions reveals a series of misperceived assumptions about the Euro-American origins of practices surrounding humanitarianism and on misunderstandings of the politics of international asylum and refugee laws that grew out of World War II as part of a mandate for a new world order. Our conversations will locate the flows of forced migrants in the Global South, the primary sites for hosting, in order to ask: How does a focus on host countries reorient our understanding of the spaces of care? Moreover, as we will move away from a Euro-American intellectual history, this series will ask: What are the ideological underpinnings of caring for distant others outside of Enlightenment frames? We envision that such comparative reorientations will transform our perspectives on humanitarian care to integrate the diverse rationalities and forms of expertise that underlie them.
Webinar | Thursday, December 3, 2020 | 3:30-4:30 pm (PST)
Jessica Whyte (University of New South Wales) & Emma Meyer (Emory University)
Jessica Whyte, “‘The Opposite of Humanity’: Anti-colonial Challenges to International Humanitarian Law”
This talk considers the contributions of post-colonial nations and national liberation movements to international humanitarian law in the 1970s. Rejecting the view that their role was to confirm the incipient universalism of the humanitarianism of the Red Cross, Whyte traces their attempt to re-orient international humanitarian law to serve struggles for decolonization. 
Emma Meyer, “Managing Migrants, Resettling Refugees”
In the mid-twentieth century, colonial-era efforts to regulate and control migrants of Indian descent crossing the Bay of Bengal became central to later systems of managing displacement in South Asia. This talk focuses on Visakhapatnam, India, which has become a continuous site of resettlement for displaced people since WWII. 
This webinar is part of the Fall Quarter Theme: “Decentering Migration and Decolonizing Humanitarianism.” For more information, about Humanitarianisms: Migrations and Care Through the Global South please visit our website.
This webinar series is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and part of the Sawyer Seminar Humanitarianisms: Migrations and Care Through the Global South 2020-21 hosted by The Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington.