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The Humanitarian God in the Political Marketplace

The Endtimes of Human Rights Stephen Hopgood Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2013. vii + 255 pp. Speaking Rights to Power: Constructing Political Will Alison Brysk Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. xi + 252 pp. Over a decade ago, David Kennedy asked supporters of international “human rights to think hard about whether the human rights movement might, on balance, and acknowledging its enormous achievement, be more part of the problem in today’s world than part of the solution.”1 Since then, powerful realist critiques of the Read More »

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Theses on Humanitarianism and Human Rights

What follows is the rough draft of some thoughts on the topic prompted by an exciting upcoming conference at George Washington University. 1. The almost universal tendency is to conflate the two categories, and it is understandable that the minority and prophylactic response to this conflation has been to distinguish them for the sake of analytical clarity and historical propriety. Obviously, life is messy, and no set of distinctions is perfect, but it seems wiser to avoid conflation and to err on the side of Read More »

Response to the Commentators, Part Two

This post is part of a roundtable discussion on two historiographic articles by Joseph Hodge published in recent issues of Humanity. For more about the roundtable and all currently available posts please see this page. Once again let me express my gratitude to the commentators, most of who appear to agree with the overall argument, analysis and historiographical arc I have sketched out in these essays. That said, as previously noted, several contributors also see the need to reflect more deeply about the study of Read More »

Response to the Commentators, Part One

This post is part of a roundtable discussion on two historiographic articles by Joseph Hodge published in recent issues of Humanity. For more about the roundtable and all currently available posts please see this page. I would like begin by expressing my gratitude to the Humanity editorial collective, and especially to Nils Gilman and Sam Moyn, for providing me with the opportunity to publish these two pieces. I would also like to thank the commentators – Tom Robertson, Corinna Unger, Robert Packenham, David Ekbladh, Steve Read More »

Commentary on the Essay of Joseph Hodge

This post is part of a roundtable discussion on two historiographic articles by Joseph Hodge published in recent issues of Humanity. For more about the roundtable and all currently available posts please see this page. Joseph Hodge offers us a richly detailed analysis of the making of a new academic subfield, anthropological and historical studies of development. Students will be mining his footnotes for years to come, and they will appreciate the intelligent—and sometimes severe—critiques he presents of the literature whose influence he has made Read More »

Global and Usable Histories of Development

This post is part of a roundtable discussion on two historiographic articles by Joseph Hodge published in recent issues of Humanity. For more about the roundtable and all currently available posts please see this page. My sincere thanks to Dr. Hodge for producing this remarkable review essay. It brilliantly captures the simultaneous appeal and challenge of exploring the history of development. As Hodge shows, development has embodied both disruption and creativity, engaging a wide range of historical actors in both aspects of the work within Read More »

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