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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.19

Outsiders' ethic. How to take a humanitarian stance from a distance?


  • Dr. Waldemar RAPIOR

Primary authors


Are we, Europeans, capable enough to understand the complexity of the Syrian conflict and take one of the sides? Or, the only thing we can do is not adopt a particular political stance but adopt a distinctive humanitarian attitude? But, is it possible to be impartial without being neutral? I try to answer those questions through the exploration of the Poznań Garage Sale for Refugees case study, a charity garage sale of clothes, shoes, books, and knick-knacks harvested from the backs of our closets. We donate the money collected during this event to support the refugee center in Athens and hospitals in Yemen. I am part of this civic and bottom-up initiative since 2017, and I’m conducting a participant observation of it. Furthermore, I am also doing interviews with a core team of the Sale, especially those that go as volunteers to help refugees in situ, in Athens or by the Polish-Byelorussian border. Among us, we often criticize the ‘neutrality of humanitarianism’ rule, the way NGO’s deciding how to allocate resources, or how states shape moral decisions. So, why we are doing this? And, what we are doing to make the relief more effective? These aren’t questions about values but the form of helping. In the same vein, Abend, Bargheer, and Wilson distinguish between morality as a category or form, and moral values as content. The latter might change, while the former stays the same, or vice versa. Paper is based on my National Science Centre grant “Tacit morality” (2015/19/N/HS6/01682)