The Dangers of ‘Going Native’: George Montandon and the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1919–1922

TitleThe Dangers of ‘Going Native’: George Montandon and the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1919–1922
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsPiana, Francesca
JournalContemporary European History
Volume25
Issue2
Start Page253
Pagination253-274
Abstract

This article focuses on humanitarians by studying the interactions between the International Committee of the Red Cross and one of his delegates, George Montandon, between 1919 and 1922. Montandon was charged with a fact-finding mission in Siberia that set the basis for larger repatriation plans on behalf of prisoners of war from the Central Powers. This article explores the nature and circulation of expertise – formal and informal – in connection with Montandon's private and professional life before the mission, during the mission itself and once the mission was over. Being a delegate for the ICRC was not a profession but rather a break from established professions as doctors, military officers and scholars in Switzerland. However, experts associated with the work of the Geneva organisation at the headquarters and at the ground level brought a vast set of skills to international humanitarianism. Through a spectrum of transnational connections and networks, at the end of the First World War the ICRC experienced processes of specialisation and standardisation of tasks which had already started in wartime. This article argues that the impulse towards an increasing professionalisation of humanitarianism ‘clashed’ with the ambiguities of the ICRC's mandate, on the one hand, and the tensions between the agency of individual relief workers and the institutions they represented, on the other.

URLhttp://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10275686&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0960777316000060
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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0960777316000060