Since September 2015, hundreds of Arab Palestinians from Israel have joined the massive number of volunteers who have flocked to Greece from all around the world to assist the refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. Interviews conducted after their return open up a window into a unique humanitarian engagement in which ordinary people who have been living through a protracted political crisis of their own responded to a crisis that has befallen others. In her public lecture, Michal Givoni will show how this humanitarian engagement and the solidarity of shared precariousness it has embodied challenges the premises of Western humanitarianism but also complicates the picture that studies on “other humanitarianisms” from beyond the Western and universalist frame have tried to sketch. Her main focus will be on the empathy these Palestinian volunteers have practiced in their encounters with the refugees and on its affective and political outcomes. She argues that empathy – the principle humanitarian good that has been transferred from the helpers to the refugees – has prompted an altruism of small differences in which affinity between helpers and crisis-affected people was both confirmed and consistently qualified. Based on the capacity of empathy to invigorate the other’s pain but also the vulnerability of the empathizer, Michal Givoni suggests that it is empathy, rather than preexisting communitarian bonds, that poses a greater challenge to the humanitarian ethics as we know it and may turn out to provide a promising avenue for addressing some of its shortcomings.
Nov 22, 2018 | 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Freie Universität Berlin
Rost- und Silberlaube
Habelschwerdter Allee 45