Wilder on Çubukçu, For the Love of Humanity

This post is part of a symposium on Ayça Çubukçu’s book For the Love of Humanity: The World Tribunal on Iraq (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). All contributions to the symposium can be found here. Ayça Çubukçu’s original and insightful book is an exemplary work of critical scholarship for our times. This ethnography of the 2003–2005 World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), of which she was an organizer, boldly relates theory to practice as well as scholarship to activism. Her method, which she calls “political philosophy Continue reading →

Çubukçu: Response to the reviews

This post is part of a symposium on Ayça Çubukçu’s book For the Love of Humanity: The World Tribunal on Iraq (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). All contributions to the symposium can be found here. I would like thank the remarkable scholars gathered in this book symposium from the fields of anthropology, history, international law, international relations, and English literature, who have responded in challenging ways to my book, For the Love of Humanity: The World Tribunal on Iraq, and to what the book describes, Continue reading →

Statement from the New Editorial Collective, 2019

The journal Humanity was founded in 2010 to examine the politics of “humanity” found in the convergence of human rights, humanitarianism and development. This was a period when a critique of human rights and the entanglements of humanitarianisms with empire was also gaining momentum. The current editorial collective affirms Humanity’s founding mission while attuning to new challenges. A complex dynamic of old problems and emerging obstacles has occasioned a chastened turn to human rights and humanitarianism: a renewed call to humanity has gained traction in Continue reading →

The “Dangerous Concept of the Just War”: Decolonization, Wars of National Liberation, and the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions

Abstract: In 2002, the North American political theorist Michael Walzer announced the “triumph of just war theory,” which he saw as evidence of moral progress. This paper challenges Walzer’s progressive narrative by turning to the often-acrimonious debates about just and unjust wars during the drafting of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. I show that during the International Committee of the Red Cross’s “Diplomatic Conference on the Laws of War” (1974-77) it was the Third World and Soviet states that used the language of Continue reading → Continue reading →

A Postcolonial Theory of Universal Humanity: Bessie Head’s Ethics of the Margins

Abstract: Universal humanity—the idea that human beings are, in some ways, all the same, possessing the same needs and rights—is the guiding principle of humanitarian action. Within postcolonial studies, this universalist philosophy has come under intense scrutiny for its Western bias and neglect of cultural and historical difference. This article explores the tension between humanitarian discourse and postcolonial theory through analysis of Bessie Head’s fiction, asking how we might envision a form of international community that avoids imperial power dynamics. Head’s work critiques universal humanism Continue reading → Continue reading →

Claiming Human Rights: Iranian Political Prisoners and the Making of a Transnational Movement, 1963–1979

Abstract: This essay examines the transnational movement against prisoner abuse and torture in Pahlavi Iran in the 1960s-1970s. Arguing that the notion of human rights in this era was neither fixed nor stable, it analyzes the encounter between Iranian revolutionaries, students, and intellectuals and international human rights activists and organizations. It argues that the growing prominence of prisoner abuse in Iran provided a rallying point for Iranian dissidents of various political stripes in the years before the 1979 revolution as well as a testing ground Continue reading → Continue reading →

A Mexican International Economic Order? Tracing the Hidden Roots of the Charter of Economic Rights and

Abstract: In many new histories of global ideas, norms, and institutions—including in recent scholarly treatments of the New International Economic Order—a striking “decolonization divide” has emerged, separating the formally sovereign but economically and politically weak nations of Latin America from the newly independent nations of Africa and Asia. This article uncovers the long history of interventions by the post-revolutionary Mexican state in international economic governance to reveal the overlooked Mexican roots of the NIEO. It argues that by uncovering the longer history of struggles for Continue reading → Continue reading →

Representing the Disappeared Body: Videos of Force-Feedings at Guantánamo

Abstract: This article focuses on the force-feedings inflicted on Guantánamo detainees and the efforts to make visible their violence visually and legally. It examines three visual representations of the force-feedings: a government video demonstrating the feedings on an absent body; a video produced by the legal charity Reprieve demonstrating the feedings on hip-hop star Yasiin Bey; and the videos recording the actual feedings of hunger striker Abu Wa’el Dhiab, whose legal case first revealed the existence of these videos. The majority of the article centers Continue reading → Continue reading →

A New Community of Women 1855–2019

[Ed. note] In 2012, the Israeli artist Michal Heiman came across Hugh Welch Diamond’s photograph (ca. 1855) of a patient at the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum in England, and amongst the photographs, found herself looking at a picture of her younger self. This encounter led Heiman to start a photography project looking at the conditions of possibilities for “return”, asking how are our imaginative practices bound up with the process of political recognition. As Sharon Sliwinski asks in her essay included in this issue: “Is Continue reading → Continue reading →