What is it about?

Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork among aid workers and organisations providing relief assistance remotely, this article analyses the production of humanitarian remoteness, both rhetorically and in practice, shaped by remote technologies and the division of labour. In the case of Syria, the normalisation of remote practices and the dependency on local aid workers and organisations ultimately increases the distance between donors and beneficiaries inside Syria, although it reinforces the illusion of control among aid managers.

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Why is it important?

At a global scale, the rise of remote management strategies in humanitarian action has produced a growing remoteness between humanitarian actors – donors, organisations, workers – and local workers and beneficiaries. This is not a new trend. The aid apparatus needs remote emergencies to operate, creating asymmetrical exchanges with remote sufferers. The long-term intervention in Syria has become prime ground for the normalisation of remote management, to be later implemented in other settings, confirming the growing trend in humanitarian remoteness.


Writing this article was a great pleasure after years of fieldwork and hope it opens a discussion on how we care for others who suffer at a distance.

Ignacio Fradejas-García
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Humanitarian remoteness: aid work practices from ‘little Aleppo’, Social Anthropology, May 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/1469-8676.12651.
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