Forces of Compassion

Editors: Erica Bornstein and Peter Redfield

Date of Publication: 2010.
Publisher: SAR Press.

Review Text
This collection of ten essays opens with a lucid essay on the nature of contemporary humanitarianism; the framing question highlights the temporal specificity of the phenomenon: “What is it about the present . . . that casts the care of strangers in such a leading role?” (3) The contributors are all anthropologists, each case is empirically grounded and focused either on a events-locations, organizations, or types of humanitarian interventions. The articles are clear, engaging, and mostly well-written. Their focus is variously theoretical, moral, empirical and political, yet they work together as an integrated whole. Topically, the articles range from local to global, although the West-rest, North-South divides and gradients do not dominate. For example, one essay considers adoption in India by Indians; another studies the treatment of drug addicts in China; a third, the demonization of Islamic aid organizations. With an index and an integrated bibliography, this volume is altogether a model for such collections. Because the essays are critical and thought-provoking, together they are valuable for scholars, students and practitioners alike.
– Amy Singer, Tel Aviv University

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