Authority, Community & Identity article

The Popular Casuistry of Religious Humanitarians: Christian and Islamic Ethics in Action

Attention to “religion” in the work of humanitarians broadly-conceived (including both development and emergency relief actors) is on the rise, as is interrogating the reasons why humanitarians do what they do, and the role of religious actors in the broader “humanitarian international.” Drawing on interviews with Muslim and Christian humanitarians in multiple sites, Cecelia Lynch addresses the hermeneutics of religion in contemporary humanitarian action. In the lecture given on March 31, 2016 and accessible below, Lynch focuses on concepts and tensions important for peacebuilding that emerge from the “popular casuistry” of actors who navigate the principles of their faiths in difficult contexts.

[For more discussion see Atalia Omer’s “Religious humanitarians and the challenges of history” and Kyle Lambelet’s “What’s ethical about popular casuistry?“.]

Cecelia Lynch
Cecelia Lynch is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. She is an expert on international relations, religion and ethics, humanitarianism, and civil society, and has researched and published extensively on topics related to peace, security, international organization, globalization, humanitarianism, and religion. She co-edits the Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa (CIHA) Blog, at

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