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History of humanitarianism focus of upcoming lecture

Michael Barnett, university professor of international affairs and political science at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, will speak about his most recent book, “Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism,” on Monday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in the Richard and Lucille Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall at Linfield College.

Barnett will argue that humanitarianism is not just an abstract ideal but rather a “creature of the world it aspires to civilize.” He has published widely on international relations theory, global governance, humanitarian action and the Middle East. His critically acclaimed book, “Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism,” was listed as one of the books of the year by Foreign Affairs magazine. An earlier book, “Eyewitness to a Genocide,” was based in part on his experience as a political officer at the U.S. mission to the United Nations from 1993 to 1994, during much of the period of the Rwandan genocide.

“Barnett takes the reader on a fascinating intellectual journey through the rich and little known history of humanitarianism, its roots in religious tradition, and its ambiguous and conflict-ridden relationship with diplomacy and military power. ‘Empire of Humanity’ is a great read that explains much about why the humanitarian enterprise has ended up where it is now; it is thoughtful, well-written and nuanced,” said Andrew Natsios, Georgetown University, former head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Barnett is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has received many grants and awards for his research. He has previously taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Macalester College, Wellesley College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He most recently served as the Harold Stassen Chair of International Relations and professor of political science at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Patrick Cottrell, assistant professor of political science, at cottrell@linfield.edu or 503-883-2477.