Foundations grant 2021

Apr 16 2021 Posted: 14:18 IST

What do we mean by Global Solidarity? Historical Research into Humanitarian Practice

Irish Research Council, New Foundations Grant 2021


This project, developed with my PhD student Maria Cullen, aims to historicise the concept of ‘global solidarity’ in humanitarian aid. What does humanitarian solidarity signify? How have humanitarian organisations interpreted the concept differently in the past, and how did it manifest in practice? These are timely questions, given the globally simultaneous experience of the pandemic and climate crisis, along with the ongoing Mediterranean refugee crisis and renewed conversations about racial justice.


This project attempts to answer these questions in a collaborative way. It is supported by Dóchas, the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, and will engage both academics and humanitarian practitioners in discussion on the concept of global solidarity in historical perspective. Did the idea of solidarity-based response come naturally to different humanitarian NGOs? What contextual factors shaped how practitioners interacted with aid recipients on the ground? Were approaches to ethical action born of a human rights or a grassroots development perspective more likely to manifest in a solidarity-based response? Given the historic association between political solidarity and the Left, how was humanitarian solidarity understood differently? Through a workshop and subsequent publications, this project will historicise the concept of humanitarian solidarity, and create forums through which to continue these discussions.


Ms Maria Cullen, PhD student in History, NUI Galway

Dr Kevin O’Sullivan, Lecturer in History, NUI Galway




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