Humanitarian extractivism

The digital transformation of aid

By Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Humanitarian extractivism
Hardcover +
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526165824
  • Publish Date: Oct 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526173355
  • Publish Date: Oct 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526165817
  • Publish Date: Oct 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information


    This book investigates the digital transformation of aid as a form of humanitarian extractivism. It focuses on how practices of data extraction shift power towards states, the private sector and humanitarians.

    Digital initiatives aimed towards 'fixing' the humanitarian system, making it better and more secure, also create risk and harm for vulnerable individuals and communities. Central to the digital transformation of aid is the digital body - with digital identities becoming a prerequisite for receiving aid and protection - and the centralisation of vulnerability arising from enormous databases holding ever more humanitarian data. Cyber-attacks, human error and technological problems generate risks for humanitarians, but also mean that humanitarians themselves can put populations in need at risk.

    The book explores new humanitarian spaces and practices such as the humanitarian drone airspace, wearable innovation challenges and ethics in global disaster innovation labs.


    Humanitarian extractivism: an introduction
    1 Digital bodies in aid
    2 The centralisation of vulnerability in humanitarian cyberspace: the ICRC hack revisited
    3 Power, risk and riskiness in digital humanitarian work
    4 UNICEF's Wearables for Good Challenge: unpacking private sector partnerships in humanitarian innovation
    5 The early humanitarian drone airspace: flying high and failing fast
    6 Beyond the humanitarian innovation ethics gap: everyday practice in field labs


    Kristin Bergtora Sandvik is a Research Professor in Humanitarian Studies, PRIO and Professor of Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo

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