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Third-Worldism and Sans-Frontiérisme 1954-1988

Eleanor
Davey

Historian of humanitarianism

Eleanor Davey joined the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) in 2014. From 2011-2014, she worked in the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute (HPG/ODI). She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Melbourne and her PhD from Queen Mary, University of London. Her book Idealism beyond Borders: The French Revolutionary Left and the Rise of Humanitarianism, 1954-1988 was published by Cambridge University Press (2015).

Eleanor Davey, historian of ideas and humanitarianism, senior lecturer at the Humanitarian and Conflict Research Institute, University of Manchester, discusses her book, Idealism Beyond Borders. The French Revolutionary Left and the Rise of Humanitarianism, 1954-1988, devoted to the intellectual history of sans-frontiérisme and Third-Worldism, in France, from the Algerian war to the early years of Médecins Sans Frontières.

The researcher analyzes a set of personal trajectories, including those of some of the founders and companions of the organization, against the backdrop of national liberation wars, controversies over the nature of socialist regimes and the promotion of human rights. To examine these 30 years of history is to immerse oneself in the fascinating intellectual and militant effervescence of the second half of the 20th century and its significant events: the wars of Algeria, Vietnam, Biafra, the Iranian revolution, etc.

It also captures the conditions of emergence of Médecins Sans Frontières and thus helps captures the roots of some of its characteristics, such as its relationship to political ideas and the media.

More broadly, Eleanor Davey explains why she is advocating for a wider use of her discipline, History, by humanitarians.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Part 1: A book about the different versions of revolutionary left wing engagement and humanitarian action from 1954 to 1988
  • Part 2: The problems of talking of Biafra and the different versions of what happened
  • Part 3: Munich, the shifting views of revolutionary violence and the use of memories
  • Question 1: On the invention of “témoignage”, MSF alliance with neo conservative movement and personal trajectories
  • Question 2: On témoignage, its limits in the face of the growth of MSF, and the re-appropriation of politics
  • Question 3: On the fluctuating relationship between Humanitarianism and Human Rights
  • Question 4: Learning about MSF history through the MSF case studies projects
  • Question 5: Definition and limits of the notions of Third Worldism and the Sans-frontiérisme
  • Question 6: Investing militant experiences into MSF? On the role and expectations of new generations

To cite this content :
Eleanor Davey, Third-Worldism and Sans-Frontiérisme 1954-1988, 11 April 2019, URL : https://www.msf-crash.org/en/conferences-debates/third-worldism-and-sans-frontierisme-1954-1988

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