The War on Gaza: The Humanitarian Paradigm as a Neoliberal Technology

by Public and Community Events

Lecture/Talk/Seminar GAPP Political Science Research

Wed, Dec 6, 2023

1 PM – 2 PM (GMT+2)

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Conference and Visitors Center - P022

AUC Avenue, P.O. Box 74, New Cairo, 11835, Egypt




The project Pathways from Neoliberalism: Voices from Mena under the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) invites you to the panel discussion: 

"The War On Gaza: The Humanitarian Paradigm as a Neoliberal Technology"

The Israeli occupation's war on Gaza has killed over 13,000 Palestinians and injured tens of thousands more in less than a month. Airstrikes have deliberately targeted vital infrastructure, destroying water tanks and reservoirs, bakeries, solar energy units, electric generators, and gas tanks, along with hospitals, schools, and universities. Electricity lines, phone lines, and cellular networks are also regularly targeted, cutting off communication from Gazans while simultaneously severely limiting the entry of fuel. At least one thousand buildings have been destroyed, with some sources estimating that almost 50% of residential units in the strip are now rendered structurally unviable–either completely flattened or damaged beyond repair. 

Leaders of the global North continue to support the occupation's indiscriminate military campaign, both financially and with arms while dismissing calls for a ceasefire and instead advocating for the occupation to allow for "humanitarian pauses" that would allow for the entry of humanitarian aid. The invocation of the humanitarian paradigm narrative plays an instrumental role in furthering military intervention and obscuring the economic gains incurred by the economies of the global North (as evident by a 7-percentage point jump in value in the US's aerospace and weapons sector in the immediate aftermath of the war on Gaza). Additionally, the humanitarian paradigm is also essential in furthering neoliberal intervention in post-crisis building and development. The occupation's tactic to target vital infrastructure not only establishes short-term control and dependency over the population of Gaza, collapsing Gazans' ability to resist but also makes way for a post-war reconstruction process that will undoubtedly be co-opted by neoliberal economies seeking to benefit off of the destruction.

In light of the above, the panel will discuss the cooptation of the humanitarian paradigm in war-making and post-war building; in war-making, by legitimizing violence while obscuring profit-making, furthering a neoliberal military-industrial complex; in post-war building, in establishing a dynamic of dependency, furthering the neo-liberalization of post-crisis/war economies, such as in the cases of Haiti, Iraq, etc.

Panel Members


Ibrahim Awad: Ibrahim Awad is currently a professor of practice of global affairs and director, of the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, at The American University in Cairo (AUC). He holds a BA degree in political science from Cairo University and a PhD degree in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland. He has worked for the League of Arab States, the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO), holding positions of Secretary of the Commission, UN-ESCWA, director, of ILO Sub-regional Office for North Africa and director, the ILO International Migration Programme.

Awad currently is chair of the Labor Migration Working Group of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), hosted by the World Bank, chair of the Steering Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Research Network on International Migration (EuroMedMig), member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Working Group on Reimagining Global Economic Governance, member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University, member of the Advisory Board, Gulf Labour Markets, Migration and Population (GLMM) Programme, and Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He also serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals.


Jason Beckett: Jason Beckett studied law at the universities of Dundee (LLB) and Glasgow (LLM and PhD); and taught at the Universities of Newcastle and Leicester. He initially studied and wrote from the heart of the mainstream, on topics ranging from the Law of the Sea, through the theory of International Law, to the Use of Force, and tried hard to defend a mainstream understanding of Public International Law from the critical challenge. He failed; and, after completing his PhD on the ontology and methodology of Customary International Law, reluctantly accepted that the mainstream project was not viable.

Since then, Beckett has examined both the indeterminacy and the biases of international law. He has analyzed the religious structure of legal discourse and the silencing of non-European White Male voices and critiqued the pursuit of universal truths and justice. His current research focuses on poverty, feminism, cultural pluralism, and the self-justification of mainstream legal analysis. Beckett also analyses the limitations, or futility, of abstract legal critique; and advocates for alternative approaches to international justice.

Nonetheless, he enjoys working with and coaching, University teams in the Telders', Jessup's, and the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights, mooting competitions.

At The American University in Cairo (AUC), Beckett has taught courses in Public International Law, International Human Rights, Legal Perspectives on the Question of Palestine, and Jurisprudence; and supervised many dissertations in related areas. He always includes current research in his teaching and often develops research projects from his classroom experiences.

He has delivered presentations in Africa, Australasia, Europe, and America, often to some acclaim. But he remains, at heart, a classroom teacher, as attested by more than fifteen years of students.


Manuel Schwabb: Manuel Schwab works on how value behaves under different practices of determining what (and who) matters (and why). Working at the nexus between economic and political anthropology, he addresses how value operates under regimes of both humanitarian protection and the exercise of military force. His work offers accounts of objects, ideas, texts, bodies, acts and beliefs that travel across space and time and in the process come to matter differently. His first book treats emergent economic subjectivities in Sudan and how humanitarian attention channels affect and builds life worlds around events of spectacular violence. The book aims to make sense of these phenomena by treating them as economies of attention, with all the implications of scarcity, redistribution, and transaction these carry in tow. Having conducted multisite fieldwork in Sudan, the forthcoming book places localized phenomena of fiercely contested value under the dual rubrics of aid and war in the context of other historical moments of humanitarian attention. Prior to coming to AUC, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Makerere Institute for Social Research. He holds a PhD from Columbia University. When he is not writing on value and circulation, he is working on a manuscript about a manuscript seeking asylum in the world.



Nesrine Badawi: Nesrine Badawi is an associate professor of public and international law at the Department of Political Science. She received her PhD in Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She holds an LLM in international and comparative law, a License en Droit and a BA in political science. Badawi has experience working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on refugee law and has offered consultancy work to several organizations on humanitarian law and Islamic law. She has supervised several theses in the fields of Islamic law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law and she serves as an advisory editor at the University of Bologna Law Review.


Moderator : 


Amr Adly: Amr Adly is assistant professor in the department of political science at The American University in Cairo (AUC). He worked as a researcher at the Middle East directions program at the European University Institute. He worked as a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research centered on political economy, development studies, and economic sociology of the Middle East, with a focus on Egypt.

Adly has taught political economy at AUC and Stanford University. He has also worked as a project manager at the center of democracy, development, and the rule of law at Stanford University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow.

Adly is the author of cleft capitalism: the social origins of failed market-making in Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2020) and state reform and development in the Middle East: the cases of Turkey and Egypt (Routledge, 2012). He has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Geoforum, Business and Politics, the journal of Turkish Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. Adly is also a frequent contributor to print and online news sources, including Bloomberg, Jadaliyya, and Al-Shorouk.


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