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The moral economy of global civil society: a history of voluntary food aid
Voluntary famine relief has saved innumerable lives over the past two centuries and exemplifies the practical workings of what current discourse calls global civil society. This Swedish Research Council-funded project explores the roots of global civil society using a concept of ‘moral economy’. Three studies of representative cases highlight distinct periods of transnational humanitarianism: the Soviet famine of 1921–1922 illustrates the achievement of internationalism after World War I; relief efforts in Western Europe in the mid-1940s exhibit the new internationalism that followed World War II; and the famine in the Horn of Africa 1983–1985 depicts accelerating globalisation at the end of the twentieth century. By exploring the networking efforts of voluntary organisations and by examining their moral and economic agency in a historical perspective the project provides an account of the socio-political foundations of globalization. The project is led by Professor Norbert Götz at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden. My case study looks at Ethiopia in the mid 1980s, exploring the interconnections of famine, aid, media, politics and celebrity.
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