How can we understand the motivations of the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) and British authorities to undertake humanitarian efforts in the Far East in the early 1940s? And how does imperialism fit into those efforts? How does humanitarian relief work carried out in China and Burma help us understand post-World War II humanitarianism, and how does it compare to the post-war construction efforts of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration?
Zhang’s research utilizes archival material from the British Foreign Office, the Chinese Newspaper Index (CNBKSY), British Newspaper Archives, Paper Past Archives, and the New York Times archive, in addition to the FAU’s booklets and annual reports to address those questions. Zhang’s research centers the efforts of the FAU and focuses on the legacies and limitations of humanitarian work in the far east during that period. In doing so, the research contributes to analyses on the transformation of humanitarianism in 1945 and adds a new perspective on humanitarian historiography in a manner that departs from ones traditionally “monopolized” by the International Committee of the Red Cross.