Guilhot takes stock of two recent publications, Didier Fassin’s La raison humanitaire and Erica Bornstein’s and Peter Redfield’s Forces of Compassion, to question the relationship between anthropology and humanitarianism. Increasingly, as the anthropologist’s field has been reconfigured by humanitarian intervention, humanitarianism has become a subject of critical anthropological inquiry. Guilhot focuses on the way in which the various authors under review negotiate the tension between ethnography and critique, and emphasizes the limits of the current critique of humanitarianism, which sees in humanitarianism a “de-historicizing” and “de-politicizing” force.
As Sam Moyn has pointed out in his previous post, the events in Tunisia and Egypt have triggered a revival of sorts of “democracy promotion.” Yesterday, the New York Times ran a feature about “the return of pushing democracy” that explored how current events are used by some supporters of the previous administration to suggest that George W.
Executive editor Nicolas Guilhot introduces a collection of drone photographs by Trevor Paglen. Continue reading →