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The UN Security Council (Photo Credit: Shannon Stapelto/Reuters)

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 »


Job Posting: Assistant Professor, Human Rights Institute and Department of History, University of Connecticut

http://web2.uconn.edu/uconnjobs/faculty/schools_colleges/clas.php Job Posting Title: Assistant Professor, Human Rights Institute and Department of History The Human Rights Institute and the Department of History at the University of Connecticut invite applications for a tenure-track joint appointment in History and Human Rights at the assistant professor level beginning August 23, 2017.  The research and teaching responsibilities of the successful candidate will be situated in the Human Rights Institute and the History Department (the tenure home of the appointment), both of which have thriving research communities and strong undergraduate Read More »

“Yet there is a Need”: Human Rights as an Intellectual Practice (Part 2)

This paper was first given at the Stockholm Conference on Human Rights, May 26, 2015. This concludes the post that appeared yesterday. For most of the critiques of human rights, the tragic flaw in the entire system, the serpent in the garden of universal rights, is the state. In theory, the state has no role in determining human rights, which pertain to the species rather than the polis. Indeed, modern human rights—the UDHR version—were conceived as a way of protecting individuals, and the “intermediate institutions,” Read More »

“Yet there is a Need”: Human Rights as an Intellectual Practice (Part 1)

This paper was first given at the Stockholm Conference on Human Rights, May 26, 2015. The second part will appear tomorrow. Like others here, I received a very kind invitation to participate in this conference. The letter noted that the concept of human rights, once limited to cases of torture and slavery, had acquired a wider applicability, and was now deployed in a wide range of situations. The concept of species-specific rights had, this letter said, brought into focus “innumerable examples” of “violations” that otherwise Read More »

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 »

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