Laure Humbert’s book Reinventing French Aid: The Politics of Humanitarian Relief in French-Occupied Germany, 1945-1952 (Cambridge University Press, 2021) explores how humanitarian aid in occupied Germany was influenced by French politics of national recovery and Cold War rivalries. She examines the everyday encounters between French officials, members of new international organizations, relief workers, defeated Germans and Displaced Persons, who remained in the territory of the French zone prior to their repatriation or emigration. By rendering relief workers and Displaced Persons visible, she sheds lights on their role in shaping relief practices and addresses the neglected issue of the gendering of rehabilitation. In doing so, Humbert highlights different cultures of rehabilitation, in part rooted in pre-war ideas about 'overcoming' poverty and war-induced injuries and, crucially, she unearths the active and bottom-up nature of the restoration of France's prestige. Not only were relief workers concerned about the image of France circulating in DP camps, but they also drew DP artists into the orbit of French cultural diplomacy in Germany.
Laure Humbert is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Manchester. She is interested in the history of humanitarian aid, gender and population displacements. Her most recent work examines the everyday encounters between French officials, members of new international organizations, relief workers, defeated Germans and Displaced Persons, who remained in the territory of the French occupation zone in the aftermath of the Second World War.. This research has opened a number of key questions, which provided the impetus for her new research project on the history of the French external Resistance from the perspectives of its missionary dispensaries, international mobile surgical units, base and field hospitals in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. She has recently been awarded an AHRC Early career grant to work with Bertrand Taithe and Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps on ‘Colonial and Transnational intimacies: Medical Humanitarianism in the French external resistance, 1940-1945’. (Colonialandtransnationalintimacies.com)
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