Judith Kestler

Internment and humanitarian aid

Perspectives on a cultural practice

Shortlink: https://www.waxmann.com/artikelART102333

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Abstract

This article discusses internment as a field of research for European Ethnology, focusing especially on the role that humanitarian aid workers played within internment, and studying this as a cultural practice. Using the World War II internment of German merchant seamen as an example, it argues, firstly, that interventions of humanitarian aid organizations were inseparably interwoven with various controlling strategies executed by camp commandants and the detaining power, while, at the same time, benefitting inmates’ coping strategies. Secondly, it proposes taking the humanitarian aid perspective as a methodological approach for researching internment and captivity in general. The text aims at emphasizing a multi-perspective, ‘contact zone’ approach to understanding internment by showing the characteristics and the potential of this third-party-point of view in Prisoner of War Cultural Studies.

Keywords
internment, captivity, humanitarian aid, prisoner of war, cultural studies, cultural practice, World War II, Canada