Humanitarianism in Action: Asia-Pacific Ethnographic Perspectives


Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society


HK Institute for the Humanities & Social Sciences


This international workshop is the first major academic event focusing on contemporary forms of non-governmental humanitarian action in China and the Asia-Pacific from a critical comparative perspective. Bringing together thirteen world-class anthropologists and STS scholars from UK, Australia, Hong Kong, USA, Japan, and Taiwan, the workshop will explore recent transformations in Asian-Pacific moral economies of humanitarian action, situating these developments in the context of broader transnational processes and changing state-society frameworks. In a region often characterized as having a “weak civil society”, we suggest that where the political economy of official care provision does not map clearly onto the moral economy of social welfare is where the moral niche of non-governmental humanitarian action emerges. Unlike top-down approaches focusing strictly on discourses and legal regulations, the workshop will focus on actual practices and processes of negotiation joining broader trends in anthropology and the social sciences to see “cultural processes” as more disjunctive and contradictory, yet shot through with distinct motivations and moral values.