State-led humanitarian evacuation: a critical history, 1942-1999

Wolven, Michael (2023) State-led humanitarian evacuation: a critical history, 1942-1999. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis, situated within the historiography of humanitarianism, seeks to explain how humanitarian evacuation came to be viewed as a solution to problems of civilian protection during crises, and how the US and UK, who evacuated the greatest number of civilians during the 20th century, instrumentalized evacuation to further their geostrategic goals. Four cases studies focus on major evacuations of the 20th century that illustrate how evacuation became a tool of both civilian protection and international relations. Spotlighting the nexus between military actors and non-governmental organisations, the case studies critically explore the motives of evacuators, the rationale they presented to the public, and the outcomes of the evacuation projects.

While recognizing that states have mixed motives for their humanitarian operations, I claim that all evacuations essentially signify a series of political failures, and that in cases where the US and UK were aggressors and rescuers, they spun their failures into narratives of rescue and redemption. In this way, I argue, the militaristic state strategically communed itself with its victims, blurring the distinctions between aggressor and victim in service to a hegemonic rescue narrative in an attempt to limit criticism in order to defend national prestige and bolster geostrategic endeavours.

In illustrating these points across the use of state-led humanitarian evacuation through four case studies, this thesis makes an original contribution to the field of humanitarian history by offering a new interpretation of humanitarian evacuation that gives insight into relationships between repressive and ideological state apparatuses within a humanitarian context. I contend that state and NGO performances of hegemonic rescue narratives strengthen state apparatuses through the reproduction of American and British foundational national myths and in turn relations of power.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: White, Dr. Benjamin Thomas and Head, Professor Naomi
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83815
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2023 10:40
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2023 10:44
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83815

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