Images of humanitarian disaster work: A study of letters from the field
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
An increasing number of people in western countries want to make an active contribution to the world through humanitarian work. Nevertheless the organisations have to compete to attract the best individuals. WWW has become an important channel for presenting the organisations’ image and attracting potential field workers. This study explored how humanitarian fieldwork, in six European MSF homepages, was presented through letters from the field, in order to attract presumptive humanitarian aid workers. The material was analysed using discourse analysis and content analysis.
The letters provided a glimpse of how it is to work in the field and the reader gets the idea that it is possible to make a contribution and a difference; it is possible to do much with little means, even if one is not professionally very experienced. It is always enough to try your best. The letters do not show the complexity of disaster work and there are few images of local personnel and their contributions to the field work.
If the organisations want to provide a more nuanced image of the work, they should encourage the authors of the letters to describe the work of local staff in order to avoid portraying them as victims. This would strengthen the message that MSF’ expatriates are professionals assisting the locals with their knowledge and resources. Both groups deserve full acknowledgement for the important work they do.
Humanitarian action, images, letters, MSF, discourse analysis
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject Medicine
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100878OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-100878DiVA: diva2:211203