Abstract

Using Samaritan's Purse in South Sudan as a case study, I aim to develop an ethnographic portrait of an organization that has played a key role in mobilizing political support for the peace agreement through its rhetoric and advocacy within the United States and its access to key politicians, including President George W. Bush, as well as the array of political actors within South Sudan. The fact that the peace agreement has largely fallen apart and South Sudan has descended back into civil war makes it a more intriguing case study: it will provide a real-time look at how an organization copes with the collapse of a particular narrative and repositions itself in a changed, and politically-charged, humanitarian field. The intersection of religion and humanitarian action remains under-theorized and a controversial topic within the aid world, infused with mistrust of motives between secular and religious humanitarians. While both secular and faith-based practitioners would acknowledge that religion is part of the DNA of humanitarianism, exactly how much religion exists in its present form is contested.

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