Humanitarian technology: a critical research agenda

New technology may offer many opportunities for humanitarian action, but it also presents a number of challenges. Currently, most of the critical analysis of these potential challenges takes place in the blogosphere, on tweets and on listservs. There is a strong need for more scholarly engagement on the subject. This article offers an agenda for critical inquiry into the emergent field of humanitarian technology as applied to a broadly defined context of crises, encompassing both natural disasters and conflict zones, by identifying what technology does to the humanitarian enterprise, and by reflecting on the key challenges that emerge.

About the authors

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, S.J.D. Harvard Law School, is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Director of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies. Her research takes a socio-legal approach to technology, international law and humanitarian action. Her work has appeared in, inter alia, Disasters; the International Journal of Refugee Law; Refugee Survey Quarterly; Millennium: Journal of International Studies; and the IFRC World Disasters Report 2013.

Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert

Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, PhD, is Senior Researcher at PRIO, working on issues related to humanitarianism, surveillance technologies and international responses to crises. Her work has appeared in, inter alia, the Journal of Modern African Studies, Third World Quarterly and the Human Security Journal.

John Karlsrud

John Karlsrud, PhD, is Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) working on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian issues. His work has appeared in, inter alia, Conflict, Security and Development; Disasters; Global Governance; and Global Responsibility to Protect.

Mareile Kaufmann

Mareile KaufmannMareile Kaufmann is a doctoral student at PRIO and Hamburg University. She works on security issues in interconnected, technologized and digitalized societies with a special focus on resilience and crisis management. Her work has appeared in Resilience and Internasjonal Politikk.