Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Fiori Berhane ─ Anarcho-Humanitarianism: Intimate Ties, Betrayal and Refugee Assistance

Monday, November 16, 2015

12 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

Lunch will be provided.

At this time Eritreans are the third largest refugee group arriving to the European Union by boat. This tertiary wave of Eritrean refugees is what I term a second diasporan generation, 90% of whom are under the age of twenty four. Since the 2000's Eritrea's young have been leaving in droves, often making the risky journey across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Fortress Europe. The difficulty of the Mediterranean crossing, and of the large numbers of refugees entering the European Union has created an unprecedented European humanitarian crisis. In this paper, I argue that Eritrean diasporan subjects have played a pivotal role in non-institutional, de-centralized responses, in what I term as anarcho-humanitarianism, to what has been characterized as the European migration crisis. This political work, rather than being inspired by an abstract altruism, is often mediated by complex personal histories of intimate betrayal. More broadly, I argue that this form of spontaneous aid arising from within marginalized communities themselves, forces us to re-conceptualize the nature of humanitarian work itself. But for Eritrean Europeans this network of non institutional humanitarian care and aid serves to instantiate an alternate diasporan community, following in the steps of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front’s success in constituting an Eritrean transnational civil society in the 1970’s. The provision of non-institutional modes of humanitarian aid serve to .undermine the affective hold of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice, the ruling party and offshoot of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, for the greater Eritrean diaspora. This political work recognizes the importance of diasporan politics both for recent refugees and their chances at inclusion and integration in their receiving countries, and for the future of the Eritrean nation itself.

Fiori Berhane, graduate student in anthropology will present  "Anarcho-Humanitarianism: Intimate Ties, Betrayal and Refugee Assistance"

This Africa Workshop will serve as an interdisciplinary space where faculty and graduate students can come and share, present and discuss research on key issues and developments in Africa.

Africa Initiative