Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Bread from Stones

Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism

Keith David Watenpaugh
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 272
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Bread from Stones
    Book Description:

    Bread from Stones,a highly anticipated book from historian Keith David Watenpaugh, breaks new ground in analyzing the theory and practice of modern humanitarianism. Genocide and mass violence, human trafficking, and the forced displacement of millions in the early twentieth century Eastern Mediterranean form the background for this exploration of humanitarianism's role in the history of human rights.Watenpaugh's unique and provocative examination of humanitarian thought and action from a non-Western perspective goes beyond canonical descriptions of relief work and development projects. Employing a wide range of source materials-literary and artistic responses to violence, memoirs, and first-person accounts from victims, perpetrators, relief workers, and diplomats-Watenpaugh argues that the international answer to the inhumanity of World War I in the Middle East laid the foundation for modern humanitarianism and the specific ways humanitarian groups and international organizations help victims of war, care for trafficked children, and aid refugees.Bread from Stonesis required reading for those interested in humanitarianism and its ideological, institutional, and legal origins, as well as the evolution of the movement following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the advent of late colonialism in the Middle East.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-96080-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvii)
  5. Note on Translation and Transliteration
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xix)
  7. CHAPTER 1 The Beginnings of the Humanitarian Era in the Eastern Mediterranean
    (pp. 1-29)

    Marash, Anatolia, February 9, 1920.As the Armenians of Marash fled their city in the face of civil war and the certainty of massacre, a twentythree-year-old American Near East Relief (NER) official, Stanley E. Kerr, made the decision to stay behind in the organization’s headquarters to care for the hundreds of children and elderly who could not travel. He was one of a tiny handful of Americans who remained in the war-torn city as other relief workers evacuated with the able-bodied and the retreating French army. “Tonight,” Kerr wrote to his parents back home in Philadelphia, “the most bitter cold...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Humanitarian Imagination and the Year of the Locust: International Relief in the Wartime Eastern Mediterranean, 1914–1918
    (pp. 30-56)

    As the Ottoman state stumbled into the global conflagration of World War I, uncommonly late fall rains watered the high steppe and desert at the edges of the settled regions of the Eastern Mediterranean. Those rains set the stage for the metamorphosis of the indigenous grasshopper into swarming locusts the following year.

    Remembering the coming of the locusts in his diary, Ihsan Turjman, a Palestinian serving in the Ottoman military, wrote: “Monday, March 29, 1915. . . . Heavy rain fell on Jerusalem today, which we needed badly. Locusts are attacking all over the country. The locust invasion started seven...

  9. CHAPTER 3 The Form and Content of Suffering: Humanitarian Knowledge, Mass Publics, and the Report, 1885–1927
    (pp. 57-90)

    In 1904, Roger Casement, an Anglo-Irish diplomat, penned a report documenting the massive institutional exploitation, population transfer, murder, and torture that had come to be part of everyday life in the Congo Free State’s rubber trade. Prepared for the British Parliament, the report contributed to the end of Belgium’s King Leopold II’s personal rule of much of central Africa. In the two decades since the Berlin Conference (1886) had awarded the Congo to Leopold on the condition that he open the region to international commerce and improve the lives of its inhabitants, first-person accounts from Christian missionaries and journalists had...

  10. CHAPTER 4 “America’s Wards”: Near East Relief and American Humanitarian Exceptionalism, 1919–1923
    (pp. 91-123)

    Few passages in American writing on the First World War and its aftermath in the Middle East capture the naked horror of the refugee experience like Dr. Mabel Evelyn Elliott’s description of her midwinter flight (February 10–13, 1920) alongside several thousand Armenians from the Anatolian city of Marash, now Kahramanmaraş, in southern Turkey. In her 1924 memoir,Beginning Again at Ararat,the physician recalled the long nighttime march over a snow-covered plain behind a column of French soldiers who had been ordered to abandon the city and the Armenian civilian population to a resurgent Turkish nationalist force:

    Armenian women...

  11. CHAPTER 5 The League of Nations Rescue of Trafficked Women and Children and the Paradox of Modern Humanitarianism, 1920–1936
    (pp. 124-156)

    Few Armenian intellectuals of the Ottoman state survived the extrajudicial murder, deportations, and exile of the 1915 genocide. Among those who did was Yervant Odian (1865–1926). Odian, a journalist and satirist, published a serialized memoir of his ordeal shortly after the end of the war in the Armenian-language Istanbul newspaperZhamanag.EntitledAnidzyal Dariner, 1914–1919(Accursed years), this remarkable first-person account of surviving genocide is comparable to the canonical human rights literature of Primo Levi or Elie Wiesel in its scope and reflective nature. Unique to Odian’s chronicle, however, was the particular attention he paid to the fate...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Between Refugee and Citizen: The Practical Failures of Modern Humanitarianism, 1923–1939
    (pp. 157-182)

    In Aleppo, Syria, home to the largest community of descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the Middle East, a map once greeted visitors at the entrance of the Karen Jeppe Jemaran, a preparatory high school on the site of the League of Nations Rescue Home named in honor of the Danish relief worker who administered it. The map shows the boundaries of the medieval kingdom of Armenia overlaid with the borders of “Wilsonian Armenia,” a geographical construction drawn by the American president as the victors of the Great War divided the Ottoman Empire among themselves (figure 6.1). The...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Modern Humanitarianism’s Troubled Legacies, 1927–1948
    (pp. 183-204)

    Barclay Acheson, the patrician executive secretary of Near East Relief (NER) and later of its institutional successor, the Near East Foundation (NEF), traveled to the Eastern Mediterranean and convened a conference on the campus of the American Robert College (now Boğaziçi Üniversitesi) that would inexorably alter the American humanitarian presence in the Middle East. A typed transcription of Acheson’s diary from that summer remains in the archives of NER. In it he details visits and meetings, as well as games of golf and souvenir buying in Istanbul’s grand bazaar. He had traveled to the region at a moment when the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 205-232)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 233-240)
  16. Index
    (pp. 241-252)