Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In the 2018 World Economic Forum the president of the International Committee for the Red Cross, an international humanitarian organisation (but of a deeply Swiss character) declared that the humanitarian world must join forces with corporate bodies to address what have become chronic conditions of poverty, war and destitution. A system that emerged from the consolidation of the nation-state in the inter- and post-war years has today taken on an unprecedented turn. It moves beyond the nation-state as a partner and builds bridges with corporate and private institutions. This process is relevant because it is one more symptom in the reconfiguration of the forms of the state. Processes of globalisation, financialisation, hyper-neoliberalism and other such sweeping terms are multiple aspects of the same phenomenon: the consolidation of the corporate state. This paper takes on the panel’s provocative proposition that the state has taken on a new form. The corporate state underpins the subversion of democratic processes, the polarisation of politics and the emergence of populist positions. I will contribute to this debate analysing shifts undergone in the humanitarian system, which became clear since the 2015 refugee crisis. The processes by which humanitarian organisations managed the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe after 2015, and their interaction with governments, local populations, and non-governmental organisations reveals the tensions between egalitarian possibilities of humanitarian ideals (such as human rights) and the fascist tendencies of the corporate state.