On the road to the Conference on Historical Perspectives on Canadian Foreign Aid, 1950-2016

I am delighted to have joined Greg Donaghy (Global Affairs Canada) and David Webster (Bishops) in the organization of the Conference “A Samaritan State” Revisited-Historical Perspectives on Canadian Foreign Aid, 1950-2016“, Ottawa, Canada, 12-13 Dec. 2016.


In preparation for the conference, Sonya DeLaat and I have written a blog on the wonderful photo library of CIDA.


The Canadian Network on humanitarian History is also preparing a workshop on the archives of CIDA on the morning of December 12.  Archivists from Library and Archives Canada, Document management people from CIDA, and historians used to working with the Fonds will share tips and knowledge.

Picture taken by Keith Spicer during his travel in South East Asia, 1960. Personal collection.

Picture taken by Keith Spicer during his travel in South East Asia, 1960. Personal collection.

I will present a paper on «Oxfam Canada et l’ACDI: aide humanitaire et formation de l’État canadien, 1960″

The CNHH new Research Assistant and I have been busy working with Keith Spicer and his son Dag to put together a small virtual exhibit about the travel which lead to his book and the formation of Canadian University Students Overseas (CUSO).



Mon article sur les dessins d’enfants et l’aide humanitaire vient de paraître

“Discours présidentiel: Dessins d’enfants et aide humanitaire : expressions et expositions transnationales/ Presidential Address: Children’s Drawings and Humanitarian Aid: Transnational Expressions and Exhibits”, Revue de la Société historique du Canada/Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 2016, pp. 1-65.  Pour l’article en ligne, cliquez ICI.

RÉSUMÉ  Cet article propose un tour d’horizon des usages des dessins d’enfants dans l’histoire de l’aide humanitaire à l’aide d’exemples, du Canada et d’ailleurs, tirés des recherches de l’auteure. Il se penche à la fois sur les usages des dessins par diverses organisations au cours des dernières décennies et sur les emplois que les historiens en ont faits.  À l’aide d’outils empruntés à plusieurs disciplines, il propose des clefs de compréhension qui permettent de réfléchir à l’histoire de la psychologie enfantine, de la pédagogie, de l’art enfantin, des relations humanitaires entre générations, des droits des enfants et des perceptions juvéniles lors d’interventions humanitaires. Il dresse un historique du médium, de ses promoteurs ainsi que de ses détracteurs et propose un ensemble de pistes pour identifier, malgré les obstacles, des traces d’expressions enfantines.

Écoutez mon entrevue à “3600 secondes d’histoire”, CHYZ, Radio étudiante de l’Université Laval, 25 février 2016

À l’occasion du colloque des étudiants diplômés en histoire de l’Université Laval, ARTEFACT, où j’ai donné la conférence d’ouverture, le programme “3600 secondes d’histoire” a consacré une heure à l’histoire de la notion des droits des enfants. Un grand merci à l’animatrice Myriam Cyr et à la co-animatrice Hadjer Remili.


Le blog de l’émission est ICI.

Le programme du colloque est ICI.

Ma présentation s’intitulait « Aide humanitaire et monde commun : Pratiques et perceptions quotidiennes au Canada du XXe siècle ».  Résumé: Au début des années 1960, la maison mère d’OXFAM envoya Lynn Ten Kate, l’une des fondatrices des fameux magasins d’articles usagers, enquêter à travers le Canada sur l’état des énergies humanitaires, en vue d’inaugurer le premier chapitre de l’ONG en dehors du Royaume-Uni. Les notes de son voyage de neuf mois, envoyées chaque mois à Oxford, dressent un portrait bariolé des attitudes de multiples communautés canadiennes vis-à-vis des pays de l’hémisphère sud. Entre parades de Noël, émissions de radio communautaires, spectacles rock et mobilisations universitaires, elle décrit avec optimisme et candeur des pratiques humanitaires quotidiennes au moment où l’avenir des organisations gouvernementales était incertain. En plus de passages de ses rapports, cette présentation inclut des extraits d’une entrevue avec Ten Kate en 2010, de même que des traces de son périple retrouvées dans les archives et les journaux. L’histoire de Ten Kate donne l’occasion de réfléchir sur les transformations profondes des aspects transnationaux de la culture politique canadienne.



The First Newsletter of the Canadian Network of Humanitarian History is Out

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Welcome to the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History Newsletter

Dear colleagues of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History,

It is my pleasure to announce the launch of the network’s website.  Please have a look at , and use the form “contact us” to send suggestions, events, blogs and images.  The site was the product of the reflection conducted in Ottawa last May during the second workshop of the network.  Three research assistants mentioned here then helped to put it together.  We hope that it is useful to you, your colleagues and students.  We have a rich list of blogs lined up for the coming six months, with places left if you are planning on sending one.  The latest was written by our current RA, Sean Eedy, on the time when Germans were refugees and not hosts.  Read it here.

Upcoming Events

The network’s third workshop will take place in Calgary after Congress, on Thursday June 2, from 8:30-5:00.  It will be free, but please register here.  We yet have to tell you in exactly which room of the University, but we have it booked together with catering, and a special event on the Wednesday evening before, when the Network was invited to introduce the conference of Romeo Dallaire, organized by our hosts in Calgary (more to come). It will be an occasion to plan future research and events, and to take store of existing projects.

The 2016 Canadian Historical Association Congress will be held May 29-June 1.  Members of the Network will be presenting paper at the “Aid, Advocacy, Development, and Faith in the Pre-Digital Age” panel (scheduling to be determined).

Ongoing Research

In the wake of last year’s Congress in Ottawa, historians, NGO workers and archivists volunteered to put together a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant to foster historical work with NGOs. The news of the competition will come in March. Whichever way this decision comes down, research is happening. At the moment, from the Network itself, Carleton honours students Eleanor Barney, is working as an undergraduate RA to provide the Partnership Africa Canada Communications Director, Zuzia Danielski, a report of the PAC’s history for use as part of their 30th anniversary plans.

The work of archival description of the 160 Match International boxes for Carleton Archives and Research Collections continues. This will help prepare for the activities of their upcoming anniversary. The network also helped to preserve archives and memories when the Canadian Hunger Foundation closed last fall. See the post on this here.

Since our last meeting the CNHH is richer of more than a dozen new members.  You can see the growing list here. If you don’t see your name, please send me a message through our website’s contact form, or by replying to this message.


Dominique Marshall

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La Canadian Historical Review vient de publier ma Réponse à l’article “The Tragedies of Canadian International History” par David Meren

Abstract: This commentary provides nuance to David Meren’s historiographical overview, downplaying the seriousness of the gaps noted by the author. It also draws attention to authors who have received traditionally less attention in the broader area of the history of Canadian international relations, but who should be included within the more encompassing course charted by the article.



Red Cross

“The Influence and Role of NGOs in Global Governance: From Grassroots to Global”, Will Tait reports on the workshop of the American Graduate School in Paris last month

Carleton PhD candidate Will Tait attended the conference,where he presented a paper entitled “Earning the Right to be Heard: Christian Evangelicals and Overseas Food Aid and Development, 1974-1986.”  With the permission of the organisers, Will has shared many documents he brought back from this Conference.  He writes: “One theme that I did find interesting coming out in the conference papers and the workshops was the legal means by which states are countering the growing influence of NGO’s. Examples were the new Russian “foreign agent” law  and the Indian Government Intelligence Bureau Report of 2014All of this made me think of Bill C-51 at home and how the intentional vagueness of such laws gives exceptional leeway in countering views deemed against the national interest, especially in resource and energy sectors. It also made me think about the power of unelected NGOs despite their lack of status as legal entities under international law as well as issues of sovereignty.

WATCH the video recording of Jean-Marie Fardeau, Director, Human Rights Watch – France, about his engagement with NGOs. (m4v, 12 min approx).  From Left to Right : Moderator: Prof. Ruchi Anand, American Graduate School in Paris; Dr. Rahel Steinbach, Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP);  Jean-Marie Fardeau, Director, Human Rights Watch – France ; Prof. Susan Perry, American University of Paris.

LISTEN to the entire Keynote Panel (m4a, 1hr approx)

READ the program.

Second Canadian Workshop on the History of Humanitarian Aid, May 30 2015

Saturday, May 30 2015 from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (EDT), 1125@carleton, fourth floor, HCI building, Carleton University , 1125 Colonel By Drive , Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6

grenfell ESC1F1
Grenfell Stamp 2

Commemorative stamps for Wilfred Grenfell, British medical missionary in Newfoundland from 1892 to the 1930s, with the The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. See

Dear Canadian colleagues interested in the history of humanitarian aid, As you are in the process for making your plans for traveling to Ottawa for  Congress 2015  in early June, we are pleased to announce that Carleton will host the second small workshop for Canadians interested in the matter. This will be the occasion to: – exchange our respective research, practices and collections between historians, archivists and humanitarians; – take store of the projects of our partners in Europe, thanks to the presence of Kevin O’Sullivan, from the University of Ireland in Gallway; – think about improvements to the project of the common website we put together last summer; – help prepare the collaborative research grant I am putting together for the fall on researching, collecting and teaching the history of humanitarian aid in Canada There will be refreshments and food for lunch and breaks, the possibility of small grants for the extra nights for graduate students (do write to me if you would like to apply with a possible amount). Please register for the event here.

Thanks to the coordinating work of Sarah Glassford, Will Tait and Jill-Campbell-Miller, Congress will have at least three sessions of interest for our groups:

Tuesday June 2, 1:30-300
Tuesday June 2, 3:30-4:30

Wednesday June 3, 3:30-5:30 - SMD/222

Co-sponsored by the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) and the Canadian Council on Migration, Ethnicity and Transnationalism / Coparrainée par l’Association canadienne d’études du développement international (ACÉDI) et par le Comité canadien sur la migration, l’éthnicité et le transnationalisme

We are looking forward to seeing you all.

My article on “The Rise of Coordinated Action for Children in War and Peace: Experts at the League of Nations, 1924-1945” has just been published

The Collection Shaping the Transnational  Sphere  was just published out of a rich workshop organized by Davide Rodogno, Bernhard Struck and Jakob Vogel.

Here is the table of content:

 Shaping the Transnational Sphere Experts, Networks and Issues from the 1840s to the 1930s Edited by Davide Rodogno, Bernhard Struck and Jakob Vogel

Shaping the Transnational Sphere
Experts, Networks and Issues from the 1840s to the 1930s
Edited by Davide Rodogno, Bernhard Struck and Jakob Vogel


Davide Rodogno, Bernhard Struck and Jakob Vogel


Chapter 1. Professionalism or Proselytism? Catholic “Internationalists” in the Nineteenth Century
Vincent Viaene

Chapter 2. Sanitizing the City: Transnational Work and Networks of French Sanitary Engineers, 1890s-1930s
Stéphane Frioux

Chapter 3. Policy Communities and Exchanges across Borders: The Case of Workplace Accidents at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Julia Moses

Chapter 4. The Rise of Coordinated Action for Children in War and Peace: Experts at the League of Nations, 1924-1945
Dominique Marshall


Chapter 5. Building a Transnational Network of Social Reform in the Nineteenth Century
Chris Leonards and Nico Randeraad

Chapter 6. The Politics of Expertise: The Association Internationale pour le Progrès des Sciences Sociales, Democratic Peace Movement and International Law Networks in Europe, 1858-1873
Christian Müller

Chapter 7. The Road from Damascus: Transnational Jewish Philanthropic Organizations and the Jewish Mass Migration from Eastern Europe, 1840–1914
Tobias Brinkmann

Chapter 8. From Peace Advocacy to International Relations Research: The Transformation of Transatlantic Philanthropic Networks, 1900-1930
Katharina Rietzler


Chapter 9. Transnational Cooperation and Criminal Policy. The Prison Reform Movement 1820s to 1950s
Martina Henze

Chapter 10. International Congresses of Education and the Circulation of Pedagogical Knowledge in Western Europe, 1880-1914
Damiano Matasci

Chapter 11. From Transnational Reformist Network to International Organization: The International Associations for Labour Legislation and the International Labour Organization, 1900-1930s
Sandrine Kott

Chapter 12. Shaping Poland: Relief and Rehabilitation Programmes Undertaken by Foreign Organizations, 1918-1922
Davide Rodogno, Francesca Piana and Shaloma Gautier

And here is the introduction of my piece:

As Edward Fuller was compiling the third edition of the International Handbook of Child Care and Protection in 1928, he received a note from ‘an official of one of the states’ of whom he had asked ‘questions as to “child welfare” activity’. ‘We do not know what you mean by “child welfare”’, his correspondent had replied. Yet, pondered Fuller, that state harboured ‘public and private activities for the care and protection of children’. In a text that promoted the exchange of information and the production of uniform statistics, Fuller also noted that ‘word agreement’ was urgently required.[ii] This chapter considers a network of experts and transnational advocacy groups that gathered to realize these aims. This network, which included Fuller, was created and operated by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the League of Nations,[iii] an appointed body of national delegates and independent ‘assessors’ from voluntary organizations that met eleven times in Geneva, from its creation in 1924 until the interruption of the activities of the League in 1939.

            Endowed with a relatively small budget, the Child Welfare Committee was entrusted with a set of universal standards that had been adopted in the year of its creation by the General Assembly of the League of Nations – the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The committee was to establish detailed norms, conduct inquiries, organize conferences and contribute to the construction of new institutions. A corresponding and relatively small number of permanent employees of the Social Section of the Secretariat of the League of Nations were to ensure the implementation of the wishes of the committee. Child welfare was one of the six domains of the Social Section, headed, until 1931, by Dame Rachel Crowdy, a British charitable worker associated with Armenian relief and leader of the British Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War. Crowdy was then replaced by the Danish lawyer, diplomat and humanitarian Erik Einan Ekstrand. Only one member of the staff of the League worked solely on questions of child protection, the Belgian Andrée Colin, former secretary of the Brussels-based International Association for the Promotion of Child Welfare.[iv] The Child Welfare Committee also answered to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly of the League, on ‘Social and General Questions’.

            This chapter identifies the variety of traditions that informed the work of transnational child-welfare experts, the kind of expertise they claimed to possess, and the nature, methods and objects of concern of the institutions and networks they helped to put in place. The discussion uses the tools of a cultural history of knowledge that is attentive to the elaboration of legitimate expertise, of a history of transnationalism that considers networks as hybrid and polyvalent and of a history of state formation that considers public institutions as a variety of bodies with relative autonomy in reciprocal relations with the wider political culture.[v] The reflections in this chapter on such deep relationships between the constitution of expertise and the wider transformations of political cultures are mostly informed by the history of Canadian public life.

[i] This chapter is part of a history of child welfare diplomacy around the League of Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 and its Child Welfare Committee that is funded by the following agencies, which I thank: Social Science and Research Council of Canada, Leverhulme Trust, Institute of Historical Research and Carleton University Internal Research and Travel Grants. It has benefited from the comments of Pierre-Yves Saunier and Johannes Pullman, and from the revisions of James Braun, research assistant.

[ii] Edward Fuller (ed.), The International Handbook of Child Care and Protection (3rd edn, London 1928), vii–xii.

[iii] In 1924, the new Child Welfare Committee was paired with the Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Women and Children, which the League had absorbed in 1922; together they formed the Advisory Commission for the Protection and Welfare of Children and Young People. The national members were to work on both issues, but the assessors were nominated for only one. The name changed again in 1936 to ‘Advisory Committee on Social Questions’, now a single committee. H. Aufricht, Guide to League of Nations Publications: A Bibliographical Survey of the Work of the League, 1920–1947 (New York 1951), 200–11. The general information also comes from LONSEA: Searching the Globe though the Lenses of the League of Nations,

[iv] The International Association for the Promotion of Child Welfare (French title: Association internationale de protection de l’enfance [AIPE]) had been founded in 1921 to bring together members of the Belgian, French, Italian, Luxemburg and French governments and private individuals. Fuller, International Handbook, 584–85. Andrée Colin headed its office, called the Office international de la protection de l’enfance.

[v] M. Poovey, Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation 1830–1864 (Chicago 1995); S. Gunn, History and Cultural Theory (Harlow 2006); E. Zimmermann, ‘Intellectual Elites’ in Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History, eds A. Iriye and P.-Y. Saunier (Basingstoke 2009), 547–50; P. Abrams, Historical Sociology (near Shepton Mallet, Somerset 1982); Ann Showstack Sassoon, ‘Gramsci’ and ‘Hegemony’ and V.G. Kiernan, ‘Intellectuals’ in Dictionary of Marxist Thought, ed. T. Bottomore (Oxford 1991), 221–23, 229–31 and 258–60 respectively; D. Rodogno, B. Struck and J. Vogel, ‘Introduction’ in this volume.

Listen to today’s talk by Kevin Bruschett: “Not the only String in Our Bow, Bureaucrats, Activists and Canadian International Development Policy, 1960-75”


Two members of our Canadian Network of the History of Humanitarian Aid organized this lunch talk today.   Click HERE to listen (47 mn).

Dr. Kevin Brushett, Assistant Professor of History and Chair of the Military and Strategic Studies Programme at Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston,  spoke on the early history of the Canadian International Development Agency.  He was introduced by Greg Donaghy, Head of the Historical Section at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

The talk was held at DFADT, Sussex Drive, Ottawa on January 15, 2015.

Thanks to Will Tait, PhD candidate and Contract Instructor in History at Carleton University for the recording.

Here is what Dr. Donaghy wrote in advance of the talk:

Bruschett works gives “a glimpse at the struggle to define Canada’s international development program during the 1960s and early 1970s. Professor Brushett explores the interactions between government officials from External Affairs, the foreign aid bureaucracy, and young activists from Canada’s emerging non-governmental sector as they tangled during this foundational “golden age” over the nature and evolution of Canadian aid policy. Focused on recurring tensions in aid policy, this study helps illuminate persistent debates over the direction and form of Canadian international development assistance by grounding them in their historical context.

A graduate of Queen’s University, Dr. Brushett is an Assistant Professor of History at Royal Military College where he teaches modern Canadian and American history. He is currently completing a manuscript on the Company of Young Canadians, a community development program established by then Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson’s government in 1965. The present talk is drawn from a new research project examining the growth and performance of Canadian international development policies between 1965 and 1995 through the lens of the Canadian International Development Agency’s Non-Governmental Organization Branch.”

History of voluntourism: “To Hell with Good Intentions”

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This week Carleton’s student newspaper, The Charlatan, published a feature article on voluntourism.  The author, Erika Howes, asked me about the history of the phenomenon. One of the events I mentioned to Erica is the conference of Ivan Illich, the catholic priest, social critic, and missionary who, in the late 1960s, told American students eager to go and save people abroad to stay home.  International charities, he contended, were plagued with the kind of paternalism which still tainted the very kind of religious missions he was trying to reform from within.

The conference was brought to my attention last year by retired CBC radio producer David Cayley, during an interview where he recalled his days as an employee of the the small and main office of Oxfam Canada, then in Toronto, in the mid-sixties.  Well known later for the program Ideas, Cayley would come to  know Illich well, be able to conduct rare interviews with him, at the turn of the 1990s, and to write about his thoughts.  In the preface of the written transcript of their conversations, he recalls how he found the conference paper, in a bundle of material sent by the Canadian University Services Overseas  (CUSO)* to  returning volunteers like him.  Cayley had spent two years teaching in northern Borneo before working for Oxfam. CUSO’s leaders, he gathered, might have thought their own organization to be too good to be part of Illch’s indictment. But the sharp denunciation continued to trouble him.

Here is the text of the conference Illich gave in 1968, and which impressed the young Cayley, “The Hell with Good Intentions.” And here are a few audio recorded excerpt of their conversation, which address, in part, the question of good samaritans.

Cayley worked mainly at the education branch of Oxfam, touring schools and producing material to instruct young people at home about the Third World, to create the kind of “informed community” Illich was calling for.

Cayley's bulletin

Listen, the Educational Supplement to Oxfam Canada’s Bulletin, edited by Cayle and his colleagues on the mid- 1960s, to “Create an informed community” and “face the crisis of development”.

Still, when in Oxfam, he did organise a trip for Canadian high school students in Mexico, which, he reckons from later testimonies, transformed the lives of many.  The story has to be told more fully, but it is not unlike the adventure of British teenagers who went to Algeria in the late 1960s, this time with Oxfam UK. It was called “Operation Oasis“, and McGill Ph.D. candidate Marie-Luise Ermisch has written about this story in a blog for the  UK Voluntary Action History Society.

Today’s tensions around the “good intentions” of voluntourism, identified in The Charlatan‘s article, are also well documented in the anthropological study MA student Cassandra Verardy completed last year, for her MA thesis in anthropology at Carleton University, on “Perceptions of Voluntourism,” by interviewing a dozen of voluntourists.  Cassandra presented her thesis in three minutes last year, and here is the video.


Poster on Voluntourism prepared by thirs year students M. Dancho, in HIST 3111, Winter 2014

Last Winter in the course on the history of humanitarian aid I taught, Mackenzie Dancho prepared this potent visual summary of the dilemmas associated with voluntourism.  The display attracted a very large comments by fellow students, who are at once attracted to and concerned by, possibilities of volunteering and traveling abroad at the same time.

*See the free sample chapter on CUSO in India,  of Ruth Compton-Brouwer’s recent history of CUSO, based on volunteer’s interviews.