Examining the history of emotions and humanitarianism, Claire discussed the fact that the current narrative on humanitarian actions mostly relies on terms such as “sympathy” or “altruism”, without reflecting on the unconscious core of the humanitarian impulse that should also be “love”. Because of such emotional bias, individuals and humanitarian organisations risk harming the practical outcomes of their work, setting up the terrain to damage, instead of serving, humanity. For Claire, is it possible, for instance, to trace the genealogy of these “emotional politics” looking at case study of the birth of the Red Cross principle of humanity.
Through a narrative inquiry in the archives of the Red Cross and focusing on the figure of Henry Dunant, she unveils where and how love has impacted the construction of the discourses on the principle of humanity, highlighting the emotional biases attached to it and to human outrage for suffering. Indeed, choosing love as the main emotion allows a greater exploration of the humanitarian impulse because it extends the analytical grid to other fields and reveals the tension between the ideal significance of love and the rational pragmatism beyond the activities of the Red Cross.