9th European Spring School on History of Science and Popularization Living in emergency: humanitarianism and medicine

18.05.2017 to 20.05.2017 Add to calendar


Present-day humanitarian crises, such as the Syrian Civil War and the subsequent refugee exodus, highlight the challenges of providing emergency medical relief to populations in distress, resulting from armed conflict or catastrophe, whether provoked by natural or artificial causes. Recent publications have also echoed the increasing concern with humanitarian medicine in the contemporary world, particularly, since the creation of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) following the Biafra War. The growing importance of humanitarian medicine is also reflected in the creation of university chairs in the field, as it has become an integrated part of the curricula of numerous North American and European medical schools.

Despite its widespread use, the term “humanitarian medicine” is a relatively new term and remains vague because it refers to a collection of heterogeneous practices that have historically evolved from very different disciplines such as war medicine, nursing, epidemiology and, even, food sciences. The European Spring School [ESS] “Living in Emergency: humanitarianism and medicine”, aims to delve into this history by reconstructing emergency humanitarian interventions (mostly based on medical technologies) in wars and other disasters, from the mid-nineteenth century, (when the Red Cross movement was created) to nowadays. More specifically, the school aims at providing a historical perspective on humanitarian medicine by paying particular attention to three major issues, namely bodies, gender, and emotions through three different types of sources that are intimately linked to the development of modern humanitarianism: written narratives, photography and cinema. This multidisciplinary approach is intended to give new insights into past humanitarian action as well as to stimulate reflection on current humanitarian crises.

As in previous sessions, this ESS is structured in key-note lectures and research workshops. Lectures will be delivered by the following scholars:

Rony Brauman (CRASH, Paris) and Bertrand Taithe (University of Manchester): Humanitarianism: Past and Present

Valérie Gorin (Université de Genève): Cinema and Humanitarianism (1914-1945): mobilization and propaganda

Dolores Martín-Moruno (iEH2, Université de Genève): Gendering humanitarian war narratives: Nursing within the history of compassion

Francesca Piana (SUNY Binghamton, USA): Of suffering and healing: gendered bodies and emotions in the history of humanitarian photography

The ESS “Living in Emergency: humanitarianism and medicine” is open to graduate students, young scholars, professionals, and activists concerned about the past and the present of humanitarian medicine and, more generally, of emergency humanitarian action. Accepted papers and posters will be briefly presented and discussed during the workshops.

Participants would be expected to address such issues as:

Humanitarian narratives and their sources (official records, medical reports, personal writings, etc.)

Witnessing suffering in wars and other disasters through technologies like photography and cinema

Agencies and agendas (colonialism, national patriotism, internationalism, religious or political proselytism, war propaganda, etc.) in humanitarian medicine

The creation of emotional responses towards vulnerable bodies in humanitarian crises

Gender, emotions, and humanitarian action

Caring practices and medical technologies in humanitarian action

Categories of victims in wars and other disasters (wounded soldiers, prisoners, refugees, children, women, the disabled, etc.)

Situated knowledges versus pure science in emergency medicine

Relationships between humanitarian action and other spheres (national policies, international politics, international law, etc.)

Risk in humanitarian action and emotions (compassion fatigue, victim resentment, etc.).


The registration form will be available from 1st February to 31st March (discount fares), and afterwards to 8th May (full fares) at 9th/europeanspringschool2017 and you can find further details at the website 9th European Spring School. For booking additional nights (over the two ones included in the registration packs), please contact Ms Janette Lanting at empresas@viajesmagon.com

In case you need a detailed invoice of your registration fees, please, send your requests to ESSMahon2017@gmail.com

About grants

A limited number of grants (covering conference fees, accommodation and/or travel) are available for those presenting papers and posters. Those interested ought to send by 20 February 2017, an application letter to ESSMahon2017@gmail.com

The grant applicants should not register until March 10th, after the list of accepted grants will be published at the website 9th European Spring School


20th February 2017 Deadline for grants application
10th March 2017 Publication of the list of accepted grant applications at the website
10th March 2017 Opening of the registration period for grant applicants
1st February to 31st March 2017 Registration (discount fares)
1st April to 8th May 2017 Registration (full fares)

Organised by: 
Coordinated by Jon Arrizabalaga (IMF-CSIC, Barcelona), J. Carlos García-Reyes (ICIII, Madrid), Dolores Martín-Moruno (IEH2, Université de Genève) and Àlvar Martínez-Vidal (IHMC López Piñero, Universitat de València)
Mahon / Maó (Menorca)
Event language(s): 
Cost information
Event cost: 
0.00 CHF
Entre 100 et 300 euros. Il est possible d'obtenir une bourse.
Registration information
Registration online