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The Politics of Service

American Quakers and the Emergence of international humanitarian aid 1917-1939

This book provides the first comprehensive history of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the central aid agency of Religious Society of Friends or Quakers, from 1917 to 1939. Implying a thoroughly transnational approach, it sheds a light on the important role American Quakers played in the emergence of a humanitarian sector within the USA and beyond. Through the Quaker lens the book adresses important tensions inherent to the history of humanitarianism in the 20th century: Following the AFSCs aid operations from the First World War, through post-war Germany and Soviet Russia to the Spanish Civil War it deals with the AFSC’s conflicting roles as a specifically American aid organization on the one hand and its position within transnational religious and pacifist networks on the other and it opens a window to processes of professionalization, the development of humanitarian techniques and the complex relationship of religious and secular strands in the history of humanitarianism.

Author Information

Daniel Maul, Univerity of Oslo
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