Talk by Markus Geisser, International Committee of the Red Cross

“The present is never present – it is already past. Humanitarian action in an age of reorder”
– Markus Geisser, Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross

Monday 9 July 2018

17:45 – 19:55 BST

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
Queen Street
Exeter
EX4 3RX

AHRC Care for the Future, in partership with the University of Exeter, invite you to join us for an evening with Markus Geisser, Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Markus will be talking about his work with the International Committee of the Red Cross – a career that has seen him travel the globe and influence the development of humanitarian aid policy.

There will be an opportunity at the end of Markus’ talk to ask questions.
This will be followed by a wine reception with nibbles. All are welcome to attend.

****Please register your attendance****
Doors at 17:45 for a 18:00 start.
Please use the garden entrance at RAMM for Gallery 20.

REGISTRATION: Eventbrite

Biography
Markus looks back to a long career as humanitarian practitioner. A Swiss native, he started in 1999 when he first joined the ICRC and carried out his first mission as an ICRC delegate in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This was followed by several years managing field operations in Myanmar, Thailand, Liberia, Darfur (Sudan) and then again in eastern DRC. From 2006 until 2013, he worked in senior management positions in countries affected by the so-called “Global War on Terror”, first in Iraq and Jordan, then in southern Afghanistan and in Washington DC. From 2013 until 2015, he served as Deputy Head of the division working on humanitarian policy and multilateral diplomacy at the ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva. In March 2015 he joined the ICRC Mission to the United Kingdom and Ireland as Senior Humanitarian Affairs and Policy Advisor. He holds a Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies from the Fernuniversität Hagen, a BA in Political Sociology from the University of Lausanne and a MSc in Violence, Conflict Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Past Matters, Research Futures: A Care for the Future ECR Conference

ahrc-logocare-for-the-future-cover-cropped

Past Matters, Research Futures
A Conference for Early Career Researchers
Royal Society, London, 12-13 December 2016


Check out the Storify summary of our Evening panel event: https://storify.com/eventamplifier/past-matters-research-futures

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Our evening event for the ‘Past Matters, Research Futures’ conference will focus on heritage, research collaboration, and early career research paths. Starting at 5:30pm on Monday 12 December we’ll host a ‘Question Time’-style panel that will be tweeted – so join us for discussion at #PastMatters.

Evening Event flyer - click to enlarge

Past Matters, Research Futures – Evening event flyer

Past Matters, Research Futures – Evening event flyer

Evening event description

 Past Matters, Research Futures will showcase the exciting research conducted by Early Career Researchers (ECRs) related to Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past, one of four strategic research themes supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The conference aims to raise the profile of arts and humanities research within affiliated academic institutions and partner (and potential partner) organisations, as well as to highlight the public value of collaboration, both national and international.

On Monday evening at 5:30pm we will hold a ‘Question Time’-style panel discussion on current priorities in research and the world of heritage. We’re pleased to announce our panellists, who each bring a unique perspective on these issues:

  • Dr Loyd Grossman (Chairman, Heritage Alliance), moderator
  • Mrs Ghislaine Glasson Deschaumes (Chef de projet / Head of Project, Labex Les Passés dans le présent / Labex Pasts in the Present, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
  • Prof Sandra Kemp (Senior Research Fellow, Victoria & Albert Museum and Imperial College London, and Care for the Future award holder)
  • Mrs Carole Souter (Master of St Cross College, Oxford and former Chief Executive of Heritage Lottery Fund)
  • Prof Andrew Thompson (Leadership Fellow, AHRC Care for the Future theme and Interim Chief Executive of the Arts & Humanities Research Council) 

Questions will be sourced from the ECR audience. Some issues we seek to discuss are:

  • Current priorities in heritage and their connections to interdisciplinary historical research in universities
  • The heritage of the present and of the future
  • Recognising the importance of science and other disciplines in cultural heritage

Many people will be concerned with the impact that their research is having, or might have, in the next few years. Collaborating with non-academic organisations, museums, galleries, and learned societies can be a key route to achieving impact and, we believe, can offer benefits to all involved. We’ll ask speakers for their observations on ‘working in partnership’, for example:

  • Personal experience/observations of working between academic and non-academic organisations
  • Experiences of research conducted outside of the academy, and opportunities for academic researchers
  • Can effective collaboration drive innovation in the heritage sector?

We’ll also ask speakers to reflect on their own ‘personal research profile’, their routes to their current posts, and any advice they have for the audience. Emphasis will be placed on the processes and particular challenges of early-career research and partnership working as well as outputs, and on activities that encourage the development of a sustainable, interdisciplinary research community that will function successfully as part of the theme’s legacy. The conference also aims to foster open and honest conversation in order to better understand the future opportunities and requirements of working in partnership with non-academic organisations.

We wish to build a lasting, sustainable research community and have plans to facilitate this following the conference. There will be opportunities for networking opportunities as well as the chance to discuss and build ideas for research futures.

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Until 29 NOVEMBER 2016: Register for the Past Matters, Research Futures Conference, an AHRC Care for the Future theme ECR conference taking place 12-13 December 2016 at The Royal Society, London

We are now able to offer places to non-presenting attendees at the ‘Past Matters, Research Futures’ Care for the Future ECR conference. The conference is an opportunity for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) doing research related to the AHRC Care for the Future theme to showcase their work and engage in wider discussions about themes of Care for the Future, partnership working between academic and non-academic organisations, and the processes and challenges of the ‘New Researcher’. While attendees will not be presenting, we hope to encourage an atmosphere of engaged participation at and beyond the event.

Conference attendance is free of charge. Meals during the conference and accommodation for 11th and 12th December for those requiring it will be provided. Bursaries are available for reasonable travel costs and will be reimbursed following the event. Applicants must therefore commit to attending both days of the conference (Monday 12th Dec approximately 9am – 9pm and Tuesday 13th Dec 9 – 4pm).

Please note that numbers are limited and priority will be given to ECRs as defined by the AHRC (within eight years of the award of your PhD/equivalent professional training OR within six years of your first academic appointment). Early Career professionals not based in a higher education institution but with a research remit related to Care for the Future programme themes are also encouraged to apply (see the AHRC Care for the Future webpage for details of research remit). PhD students, particularly those nearing the end of their degree, may also apply.

To apply to register please visit https://goo.gl/forms/sXywXF5Vqjknqb9i2.  Deadline for application is extended to Tuesday 29th November. Your registration is not final until you receive confirmation, which will be sent by 30th November.

Please see below and attached programme for further details and a programme of conference events. For further information please contact Christine and Terah at careforthefuture@exeter.ac.uk or 01392 725073. On Twitter at #PastMatters.

Conference Themes:

  • Processes and challenges of ECRs
  • Fact, fiction and cultural representation
  • Selling the Past – Securing the Future? Commercialisation and commoditisation of the past
  • Anniversaries and commemorations
  • Environmental Histories and Sustainable Legacies
  • Instrumentalising the Past

Empires of Emptiness: What the past tells us about desert warfare in the Sahara – at a time when it is being fought

Dr Berny Sèbe
Senior Lecturer in Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies
Principal investigator of the ‘Outposts of Conquest’ project (www.birmingham.ac.uk/empires)

Empires of Emptiness: What the past tells us about desert warfare in the Sahara – at a time when it is being fought

When it comes to fighting jihadists in the desert, forget about the buzzwords now commonly associated with radical Islam elsewhere: social networks, internet recruitment or online propaganda. Of course, cybercafes are not entirely absent, even in the most remote oases, so cyber-recruitment and e-propaganda are not entirely irrelevant, but there are more important aspects to the picture to be taken into account when it comes to war in the desert.

The main courtyard of the fortress of Zirara, Algeria. Photo Yacine Ketfi.

At least, these are the preliminary conclusions of a research project I am leading at the University of Birmingham (in collaboration with Prof. Alexander Morrison, at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan), which examines strategies of colonial conquest and administration in arid environments, through the case-study of desert fortresses. Back in the nineteenth century, policy makers in London, Paris or Moscow faced questions and challenges which were not so dissimilar to those which are asked today when it comes to, let us say, Libya or Mali.

When French forces decided to renovate and expand in 2013 an old desert fortress in the barren sandy plains of Madama, in the far north-east of Niger, in an attempt to control human, trade and trafficking fluxes between the deeply unstable Southern Libya and the rest of the Saharo-Sahelian belt, they actually emulated what their predecessors had done a century before. The construction of fortified bases from which military power can be projected has been a regular feature of modern desert warfare, and even drones and supersonic fighter jets have not made this form of effective territorial control redundant.

The challenges any army trying to confront an ever-elusive enemy like jihadist fighters are reminiscent of those faced by nineteenth-century empire builders. How can vast and sparsely populated spaces be controlled effectively? How can potential allies be distinguished effectively from die-hard hostile forces? Which strategies will ensure that the arrival of a new player able to flex its muscles does not provide a massive recruitment boost to the opposing party? What is the most effective balance between mobility and brute sedentary force?

Views towards the palm grove from the fortress of Taghit, Algeria. Photo Yacine Ketfi.

This is where the past can teach present strategists a few lessons: not only in terms of where fortresses can be located effectively, but also how they are best used to enhance impact: as intelligence centres as much as logistical bases, and also as symbolic statements which foster local support. In a context where traditional values of sometimes violent masculinity prevail, airpower is often seen as a proof of weakness: it can only be chosen by those who seek to evade direct, virile confrontation. In the nineteenth century as much as today, fortresses assert a stern determination to act effectively on the ground, and guarantee and can generate further rallying.

Past experience also tells us that fortresses can only be effective if they are located at strategic places which cannot be easily avoided: they become more a statement of vanity if they can be easily bypassed. Tactful management of human relations is needed to ensure that they do not become the embodiment of a much-despised foreign presence. And crucially, they are effective only if they can operate as springboards from which military power is projected – with camel-mounted troops then, and all-terrain jeeps and lorries now.

The architectural structure of the Bordj of Erfoud East, Sahara. Photo Berny Sèbe.

More generally, the past tells us that the Sahara has its own socio-cultural dynamics based on centuries of subtle negotiations between various competing communities, and that this complex human fabric has to be understood if any form of durable settlement is to be found. Local susceptibilities are also best taken into account, to avoid antagonising those who have to be seen as partners rather than obstacles. This is the reason why collateral damage is all the more significant in such societies which have long-term memories. The way in which Sahara nomads in general have also tolerated or even supported the French presence after having resisted it in the first place, can also teach us a lot when it comes to devising strategies for long-term peace and stability in the region: local population need to be clearly the net beneficiaries of the return of peace, and take an active part in it. The Pax Gallica worked in the first half of the twentieth century because it was locally co-opted and offered prized rewards. In the twenty-first century, jihadist movements

Anyone reading Winston Churchill’s observations about the Afghans in his debut book The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1897) will be struck by how relevant some of his observations have remained. In spite of the staggering speed at which the world changes, it seems that the past can still teach us a lot, especially when looking at such specific environments like the Sahara or the Himalayas. It is probably not a coincidence if the French, who had the benefit of a century and a half of military operations in the Sahara, have been able, against all odds, to achieve in Northern Mali in less than a year what an international coalition led by the United States has been unable to get in Afghanistan in a decade.

The ‘Outposts of Conquest’ project (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) has given rise to an exhibition which is being shown until 16 December 2016:

Empires of Emptiness – Fortresses of the Sahara and the Steppe’, in the Footprint Gallery at Jackfield Tile Museum, Ironbridge Gorge TF8 7LJ. Open everyday from 10am until 5pm.  Admission is free of charge.

The walls of the fortress of Turkestan, built by the Khanate of Kokand. Photo Berny Sèbe

 

Call for Proposals: Care for the Future Early Career Researcher Conference

Call for Proposals: Care for the Future Early Career Researcher Conference

Past Matters, Research Futures

Deadline for proposals: 31 July 2016
Further information can be found in the call document: Care for the Future ECR Conference call document June 2016

Past Matters, Research Futures will take place at the Royal Society, London, 12-13 December 2016 and will showcase the exciting research conducted by Early Career Researchers (ECRs) related to Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past, one of four strategic research themes supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). ECRs are represented in the theme in a variety of ways, and are recognised as playing a key role in its development, dynamism and legacy.  

We welcome proposals for papers, panels, workshops, and discussion groups, and also encourage applications incorporating creative modes of presentation, including film screenings, music, artwork and performance. These should come from ECRs[1] who have been involved in Care for the Future funded research projects, the Labex Pasts in the Present programme, or whose research closely aligns to the Care for the Future theme (see theme description) – ECRs researching in arts and humanities fields with strong links to the theme, but who are not funded within the theme, are also invited to apply. Proposals may come from individuals or project/cross-project team duos, and may also include representatives from non-academic partner organisations.
 
Conference Themes: 

  • Fact, fiction and cultural representation
  • Selling the Past – Securing the Future? Commercialisation and commoditisation of the past
  • Anniversaries and commemorations
  • Environmental Histories and Sustainable Legacies
  • Instrumentalising the Past

The conference aims to raise the profile of arts and humanities research within affiliated academic institutions and partner (and potential partner) organisations, as well as to highlight the public value of collaboration. Emphasis will be placed on the processes and particular challenges of early-career research and partnership working as well as outputs, and on activities that encourage the development of a sustainable, interdisciplinary research community that will function successfully as part of the theme’s legacy.

Refreshments and accommodation (to a maximum of 2 nights) will be provided. Bursaries are available for reasonable travel costs (standard class) for reimbursement following the event. Applicants must therefore commit to attending both days of the conference (Monday approximately 9am – 9pm and Tuesday 9 – 5pm).

[1] ‘ECR’ is defined as within eight years of the award of your PhD/equivalent professional training OR within six years of your first academic appointment. ‘First academic appointment’ refers to any paid contract of employment, either full-time or part-time, which lists research and/or teaching as the primary function. These durations exclude any period of career break, e.g. for family care or health reasons.

Connecting with the past : The Fundamental Principles in Critical Historical Perspective

On 16 and 17 September 2015, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the University of Exeter and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, held a two-day historical symposium to discuss the humanitarian fundamental principles in critical historical perspective. The conference gathered approximately 50 participants including academics, historians and senior humanitarian practitioners from across the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other humanitarian organisations.

DOWNLOAD THE CONFERENCE REPORT HERE. Please note, this report was updated on 15 Jan 2016 to correct an error on p6.

The conference was divided into 5 panels, covering 5 historical periods:

1. The Birth of Modern Humanitarianism, 1860s to First World War
2. Consolidation and Expansion, from First World War to Second World War
3. New Challenges: Decolonisation and the Cold War
4. A “Golden Age”? The 1980s and the 1990s
5. 9/11 and its Aftermath: Operating in a Newly Constrained Environment

You can download the symposium programme here: Programme with speaker abstracts and participant bios, and watch the video on ‘History and Humanitarianism: Understanding humanitarian action – past, present and future’ on YouTube.

The symposium also included an engaging public event,Stubborn realities, shared humanity: History in the service of humanitarian action” (full video recording below).

GALLERY OF IMAGES FROM THE EXCELLENT ICRC ARCHIVES, GENEVA, RELATING TO THE CONFERENCE. Further details and full photo credits can be downloaded hereNOTE: Do not use images without the express permission of the International Committee of the Red Cross Archives, photolibrary(at)icrc.org.