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The History of Humanitarian Assistance in the 19th and 20th Centuries

This research project aims to produce a comprehensive account of the history of humanitarian assistance. It is based on an understanding of humanitarian assistance which takes into account how this field of activity has changed over time. Efforts to assist people suffering in distant places were determined by developments in civil society in Europe and the West, by the political and economic relationship between Europe and the world, and by varying understandings of humanitarianism. The focus of this research is on historical trends. The central factors driving these trends were colonialism and the civilising mission in the late-19th century, the emergence of international organizations in the aftermath of the First World War, the post-colonial transformation in the 1970s, and finally humanitarian interventions since the 1990s.