Thea Hilhorst

Dorothea Hilhorst is a Professor of Humanitarian Studies at the International Institute for Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University in The Hague. She is also the president of the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA). Thea defines humanitarian studies as “the study of societies and vulnerable communities experiencing humanitarian crisis originating from disaster, conflict, refugee situations, and/ or political collapse. It studies the causes and impact of crisis; how people, communities and authorities respond to them, including efforts for prevention and preparedness; how humanitarian action and other external interventions are organised and affect the recovery from crises; and the institutional changes that crises and crisis response engender”. Her focus is on aid-society relations: studying how aid is embedded in the context, impacts on governments and society, and is shaped by the manifold actions of actors in and around programmes for protection, service delivery and capacity development.

She has a special interest in the intersections of humanitarianism with development, peacebuilding and gender-relations. Her research programmes have taken place in settings affected by disaster, conflict and fragility, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka. One of her recent research programme concerns cases where ‘conflict meets disaster’, that studies disaster governance in high-conflict, low-conflict and post-conflict societies. She currently implements an ERC advanced grant programme on humanitarian governance. In 2022, she was awarded the Spinoza Price, the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands.

Recent publications:

Mena, R. and D. Hilhorst (2022) ‘Path dependency when prioritising disaster and humanitarian response under high levels of conflict: a qualitative case study in South Sudan’. Journal of International Humanitarian Action (2022) 7:5.

Hilhorst, D. and R. Mena (2021). ‘When Covid-19 meets conflict: politics of the pandemic response in fragile and conflict-affected states’. Disasters.

Melis, S., D. Hilhorst (2020). 'When the mountain broke. Disaster governance in Sierra Leone'. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal.

Hilhorst, D., Desportes, I., & de Miliano, C (2019). 'Humanitarian governance and resilience building: Ethiopia in comparative perspective'. Disasters, 43(S2), 109-131.

Desportes, I., Mandefro, H., & Hilhorst, D. (2019). 'The humanitarian theatre: Drought response during Ethiopia's low-intensity conflict of 2016'. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 57(1), 31-59.

Diemel, J.A. and D. Hilhorst (2018) ‘Unintended consequences or ambivalent policy objectives? Conflict minerals and mining reform in the DR Congo’. Development Policy Review 2019, 1-17.

Kyamusugulwa, P.M, D. Hilhorst & C. Jacobs (2018). 'Accountability mechanisms in community-driven reconstruction in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo'. Development in Practice, 28:1, 4-15.

Hilhorst, D, H. Porter and R. Gordon (2017) ‘Gender, sexuality and violence in humanitarian crises’ In: Hilhorst D, H. Porter and R. Gordon (eds) special issue on Gender, sexuality and violence in humanitarian crises, Disasters 41(S1): 3−16.

Hilhorst, D, N. Douma (2017) ‘Beyond the hype? Responses to sexual violence in DRC in 2011 and 2014’ in: Hilhorst D, H. Porter and R. Gordon (eds) special issue on Gender, sexuality and violence in humanitarian crises, Disasters 41(S1) pp 79-98.