Body knowledge in post-war humanitarian campaigns

Year of award: 2018


  • Dr Anna Bocking-Welch

    University of Liverpool

Project summary

I will look at the different ways in which the body has been used to mobilise public support for humanitarian campaigns in the post-war period. I will use the recently catalogued Oxfam collections at the Bodleian Libraries and the records of the British Leprosy Relief Association (LEPRA) at Wellcome to show how the bodies of donors and recipients have functioned as sites of learning and feeling. I will focus on the use of medical discourses to describe the suffering bodies of the recipients of aid, and donors’ use of self-denial and physical hardship to increase their empathy with recipients.

I will introduce a medical humanities perspective to the history of post-war humanitarian sentiment. I will write a journal article on case studies. I will use the research to develop an interdisciplinary collaborative project on embodied empathy, and as the starting point for a monograph on changing attitudes towards body knowledge in humanitarian work in the 19th and 20th centuries.