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Heide Fehrenbach
Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL 60115-2828)
The Humanitarian Eye: Photography and the 20th-Century Quest to Save Innocents Abroad

For the past century, photographic images of vulnerable children have been commonly used to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian causes, yet the visual history of international humanitarian advocacy has eluded systematic study. This book project fills the gap by examining how a diverse range of individuals and organizations, based in Britain, Europe, and the U.S., deployed photographic media to stir emotion, shape social values, and stimulate response to distant suffering. Beginning in the late 19th century, it traces the evolution of visual tropes and narratives through different photographic technologies: from public slide lectures and polemical illustrated books and pamphlets, through photojournalism and television to the internet. Drawing upon archival, visual and published sources, it is an interpretative visual history of the rise and spread of humanitarian ethics articulated via the symbolic figure of the child.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Cultural History; History, General

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2014 – 7/31/2015