AIA CES Credits
AV Office
Abstract Publication
Academic Affairs
Academic Calendar, Columbia University
Academic Calendar, GSAPP
Admissions Office
Advanced Standing Waiver Form
Alumni Board
Alumni Office
Anti-Racism Curriculum Development Award
Architecture Studio Lottery
Avery Library
Avery Review
Avery Shorts


STEM Designation
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Skill Trails
Student Affairs
Student Awards
Student Conduct
Student Council (All Programs)
Student Financial Services
Student Health Services at Columbia
Student Organization Handbook
Student Organizations
Student Services Center
Student Services Online (SSOL)
Student Work Online
Studio Culture Policy
Studio Procedures
Summer Workshops
Support GSAPP
This website uses cookies as well as similar tools and technologies to understand visitors' experiences. By continuing to use this website, you consent to Columbia University's usage of cookies and similar technologies, in accordance with the Columbia University Website Cookie Notice Group 6

Dr Romola Sanyal

Tue, Mar 30, 2021    1:15pm

This event is unfortunately canceled due to circumstances beyond our control. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Dignity and Displacement: Precarity and the Politics of the Humanitarian Aid Infrastructure

Lecture by Dr Romola Sanyal, Associate Professor of Urban Geography, Department of Geography and Environment. The London School of Economics and Political Science

Dignity is a foundational human value. The idea comes from the Greek word ‘dignitas’ meaning worthiness. It is a term that has long been debated and analysed, yet, the precise meaning of it remains vague (Chapman, 2015). Dworkin (1977) in fact notes that the very idea of human rights depends upon ‘the vague but powerful idea of human dignity’. Thus, any interrogation of what is meant to be human is closely intertwined with the idea of human dignity and human ‘worth’. Dignity is associated with equality, liberty, autonomy, privacy, decent treatment of individuals by society and can be a powerful term in legal discourse. It is also subject to cultural interpretations and is intertwined with social and community practices and acceptance. In development practice it is generally acknowledged that the meaning of dignity has both individual and social dimensions and is culturally specific (ODI 2018; ODI 2019) thus opening the door to more vernacular and intersectional understandings of the term.

The idea of dignity has become increasingly important within various fields including humanitarian work, as considerations shift towards thinking about not just supporting those who are displaced and vulnerable, but also doing so whilst keeping in mind their sense of dignity. What does it mean to centre dignity as a key aspect of practice? How does that change the way we approach questions of aid and support? This talk interrogates this idea of dignity within contexts of displacement. Looking at histories of public housing and welfare and knitting it together with humanitarian practices, I examine the shifting politics of humanitarianism as it seeks to support vulnerable populations.

Free and open to the public.

GSAPP is committed to providing universal access to all of our virtual events. Please contact up@arch.columbia.edu to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.