Constructing a Humanitarian Self: Emily Hobhouse’s Auto/Biographical Traces, 1899-1926

Helen Dampier, Rebecca Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following her relief work during and after the 1899-1902 South African War, British suffragist and humanitarian Emily Hobhouse (1860-1926) testified to her humanitarianism in several auto/biographical forms, all of them incorporating Boer women's accounts of wartime suffering. We consider the implications of Schaffer and Smith's (2004) 'ethics of recognition' for Hobhouse's construction of her humanitarian authority and the processes whereby the accounts themselves became 'untouchable' testimonies. In examining the iterations of Hobhouse's life writing as emotional practices, we analyse her felt morality, explore her urge to personal accountability, and consider to what purposes her auto/biography was co-produced in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-366
Number of pages18
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number3
Early online date18 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


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