‘Humanicrats’: the social production of compassion, indifference, and hostility in long-term camps

Why do front-line workers not always display humanitarian compassion towards people living in camps? In seeking an answer, this article conceptualises the ‘humanicrat’: a front-line worker who is part humanitarian and part bureaucrat, each with typological emotions. Case studies from NGO teams in long-term camps in northern Ugandan illustrate the social production of emotions. The two teams work in differing contexts of organisational arrangements and discourses: conditions which result in predominant emotions of compassion and indifference in one team, and hostility in another. The article ends by asking what, if anything, can be done to curb the ill-treatment of displaced people.