Doing good less badly

For the past half century international humanitarian and human rights organisations have responded to recurrent emergencies—in Africa and elsewhere—involving political instability, nutritional crisis, large-scale displacement and unconstrained violence against civilians. Humanitarian actors stress ethical purpose and operational effectiveness, yet the norm for humanitarian operations is, in most respects, failure. Although emergency response has been professionalised and the effects of disasters mitigated, crises have become more frequent and protracted, and the extent of suffering and displacement has grown. In most affected countries space for civil society is diminishing; and basic freedoms are under threat.

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The Interview

The interview—a structured conversation—is central to the practice of a wide range of disciplines and genres. These include ethnographic field work, human rights research, investigative journalism, creative non-fiction and documentary film. Interview-based research also forms a basis for the understanding of culture, for the construction of complex narratives, and for specialist forms such as life histories, testimonies and confessions. The class combines critical analysis of interview-based writing —and audio and video recording—with the development of technical interviewing skills. Classwork will include field exercises in interviewing, recording, transcription and editing, and the production of long-form, focused interviews to publishable standards….

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The Rift

The Great Rift Valley runs from the Red Sea to Mozambique, dividing the African continent in two. It is the heart of a region of striking ecological diversity, home to a wide range of human cultures and modes of existence: from pastoral nomadism in the savannah zones of Somalia and the Sudans to urban life in the industrialized cities of East Africa. Fossil evidence indicates that the emergence of modern humans took place in the eastern branch of the Rift Valley approximately 200,000 years ago. Today the lands that border the Rift exemplify the divisions and difficulties that confront Africa as a whole: a legacy of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle, and—in the present day—civil wars and accelerating environmental change….

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Problems in human rights

The course approaches a set of practical and ethical human rights issues through the study of historical and contemporary rights campaigns. These include the British anti-slavery movement of the 18th and 19th centuries (and later campaigns against slavery, slave-like practices and human trafficking), the negotiations for the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the aftermath of World War II, the campaign to ban anti-personnel landmines in the 1990s, ongoing debates around Female Genital Cutting, and campaigns for LGBTQI rights. The emphasis is on questions of strategy and organization and how these relate to wider ethical and philosophical issues. What were the challenges that campaigners faced? How did they resolve them?…

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The edge of anthropology

Anthropological writing is diverse and innovative in both style and subject. Although “ethnography” and “fieldwork” are terms that have become widely used in other disciplines, writers identifying themselves as anthropologists are still at the cutting edge of research-based factual writing—usually about small-scale societies, both those on the periphery of the world system and those at the heart of it. The course examines the range of genres and techniques that anthropologists and others have used to convey the lived experience of other cultures. It examines the tension within the discipline between making these cultures comprehensible, respecting their difference and rendering them in a framework of theory….

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Doing good less badly

Doing good less badly

For the past half century international humanitarian and human rights organisations have responded to emergencies involving political instability, nutritional crisis, displacement and violence against civilians… ... more»

The edge of anthropology

The edge of anthropology

Anthropological writing is diverse and innovative in both style and subject. Although “ethnography” and “fieldwork” are terms that have become widely used in other disciplines, ... more»

The Interview

The interview—a structured conversation—is central to the practice of a wide range of disciplines and genres. These include ethnographic field work, human rights research, investigative journalism ... more»

The Rift

The Great Rift Valley runs from the Red Sea to Mozambique, dividing the African continent in two. It is the heart of a region of striking ecological diversity ... more»

Problems in human rights

The course approaches a set of practical and ethical human rights issues through the study of historical and contemporary rights campaigns. These include the British anti-slavery movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ... more»