Ritual dynamics in humanitarian assistance

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8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Those who intervene in crises must take care to ensure that assistance does not undermine the processes through which social cohesion is generated or restored. From a neo-Durkheimian analytical perspective, feeding creates social loyalties as well as saves lives. Humanitarian agencies provide practical assistance to livelihoods, but they need also to create space for the ritual agency on which social cohesion depends. Attention to the rituals of food distribution helps humanitarian actors to address a potentially damaging dissociation between social and material facts. A post-war food security project in Sierra Leone is used to illustrate the point. The lessons of this intervention have implications for the organisation of humanitarian assistance at all levels, both international and local. The paper argues that establishing space for ritualisation within humanitarian programmes is an obligation for those who wish to do no harm
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S138-S146
JournalDisasters
Volume34
Issue numberSuppl. 2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • sierra-leone
  • rights
  • war

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