This article foregrounds the importance of non-elite actors in international affairs by exploring the rise of altruistic internationalism in Australia from the early 1950s and into the 1960s. From the mid-twentieth century, humanitarianism and international development became popular causes through which Australians engaged with the region and the world. The Volunteer Graduate Scheme (VGS), established in 1951, and the Freedom from Hunger Campaign (FFHC), run by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization throughout the 1960s encouraged “ordinary” citizens, defined here as neither experts nor politicians, to become engaged in development issues. They rendered humanitarian concern into a mainstream interest, and even wove it into popular culture. This article argues that these two programs began to stitch altruistic internationalism, that is everyday internationalism expressed through development concern, into the fabric of Australian life; and that this had distinct, though largely unintended, political effects.
- development volunteering
- Freedom from Hunger Campaign
- international development
- non-governmental organisations (NGOs)