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 anti-authoritarian resistance struggles, and humanitarian arguments are mobilized by civilians who find their homes amidst war and environmental degradation. Alongside these defensive invocations of humanity in confronting the pressures of bigotry, nationalism, and even fascism, we also see the emergence of energized and visionary social movements that assert alternative ways to enact humanity, building transnational solidarities against walls and borders, police brutality and “counter-terrorism,” while experimenting with alternative visions of political economy and democratic life, locally and globally.
The goal of the journal is to provide a single forum for the analytically focused examination of human rights, humanitarianism, and development, as well as the political transformations that have reshaped the terms of liberation and idealism along with practices of domination and control. By encouraging novel approaches to the problems of “humanity” and inviting our readers and contributors to venture beyond their usual disciplines, we hope to clear some of the obstacles to conversation among scholars in various disciplines and between academics and practitioners. The journal provides an interdisciplinary forum to facilitate inquiry into the movement of human rights, humanitarianism, and development towards a politics of humanity—because “humanity” itself is a multidisciplinary question.
We believe that the journal’s approach to critical scholarship on the politics of humanity can enrich and generate conversations inside and outside academia. We are keen to track and analyze new configurations of racial capitalism, neoliberalism, and empire, and we encourage novel responses grounded in tricontinental critical theory. We welcome contributions attuned to the plural directions of feminisms and queer theory in undoing and resignifying received categories of gender and sexuality, including how such categories continue to travel transnationally as projects of both governance and resistance. We are engaged moreover in understanding how the spaces and socialities of democratic life are being broken and brokered by struggles against the logic of borders, policing and national-security. In brief, we are interested in exploring with our readers and writers the dilemmas of the “human” and “humanity” in the contested terrain of the global, its pasts and its futures.