The humanitarian cyberspace: shrinking space or an expanding frontier?

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The humanitarian cyberspace: shrinking space or an expanding frontier?, Third World Quarterly 37(1): 17–32.

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Attempting to contribute to a more critical understanding of the role of technology in humanitarian action, this article explores the topography of the ´humanitarian cyberspace` as it has emerged since the mid-1990s.  As an analytical term, this is a composite of ´cyberspace`, and ´humanitarian ​​​space`. The article reflects on the relationship between the persistent features of humanitarian action, and new developments brought on by ICT technology.  While much remains the same, the emergence of a humanitarian cyberspace also brings about a set of changed conditions. Technology – and the attendant idea that access to information constitutes relief – alters the modes of intervention, the relationship between actors, and the nature of relief.  In order to develop a deeper understanding of the humanitarian cyberspace as a concept in its own right, the article explores this field through the prism of the ´shrinking humanitarian space narrative` and reflects critically on the future of the shrinking space narrative.

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