Geographical Imaginations of Humanitarian Disasters and Rationalities of Aid Organisations
flood of donations after the tsunami in Southeast Asia to compassion fatigue when it comes to East Africa – it is striking that donations for different humanitarian disasters vary strongly. While some disasters lead to high donation amounts, others trigger much less charitable enthusiasm. Whereas giving after the tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004 reached 670 million euros from German donors alone, the interest in the flooding in Pakistan in 2010 (20 million) or the drought in East Africa in 2011 (12 million) remained relatively low.
Taking these striking differences in donation behaviour as a starting point, this research project seeks to investigate the production of knowledge about humanitarian disasters and examines how geographical imaginations of disaster regions are discursively constituted as well as (re)produced. Which arguments are used in favour of humanitarian aid and how are representations of the ‘needy other’ created in the media? Furthermore, the research project analyses how hegemonic discourses affect humanitarian organisations’ rationalities and how humanitarian practitioners handle the conflict between their dependency on charitable giving and the contrasting representations of disasters.