Beyond Good Intentions: Responsible and Effective Advocacy in the Digital Age

This review essay will appear in Humanity volume 9, issue 1. Advocacy in Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Transnational Activism Alex de Waal, editor Zed Books, 2015 Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data Is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response Patrick Meier CRS Press, 2015 Dangerous Trade: Arms Exports, Human Rights, and International Reputation Jennifer Erickson Columbia University Press, 2015 On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake shook Haiti, leading to the collapse of much of its infrastructure, burying hundreds of thousands beneath the rubble. At a Continue reading →

Gunnar Myrdal in the Latest Issue of Humanity

This post originally appeared at HistPhil, where Maribel Morey is co-editor. She discusses the Gunnar Myrdal symposium featured in Humanity’s latest issue. Americans generally remember Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) as the astute Swedish observer of American race relations who authored the monumental study of black Americans that had been commissioned and funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944). Cataloguing the various ways that white Americans discriminated against black Americans, Myrdal argued in the two-volume manuscript that Continue reading →

A Progressive Defense of Originalism

In nominating Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, President Trump fulfilled a campaign pledge to nominate a person who followed in the tradition of “Originalism” espoused by Justice Antonin J. Scalia. In making this pledge, Mr. Trump affirmed the conventional association between an Originalist approach to legal interpretation and a well defined set of conservative political and social views. To be an Originalist, Trump implied and his supporters assumed, was to be anti-regulation, anti-abortion, anti-welfare, anti-immigrant, anti-minority rights; it was also to be Continue reading →

“Globalization,” what is it good for?

This piece has previously appeared in German translation in Heft 10 (Oktober 2016). When the global economic crisis erupted in 2008, it was not only historians who scurried in search of the lessons of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nearly a decade later, as analysts of Britain’s departure from the EU diagnose the symptoms of an economic malaise called “globalization,” it is again worth considering what we can learn from the past. It might seem unimaginable—given the turn in present-day political rhetoric—but through the Continue reading →

Humanitarian Spaces: Three Concepts for a History (Part 3)

This is part three in a series. See here for parts one and two. Oath and language: In my third and final example, I come to probably the most important element in structuring humanitarian spaces: language. It is in language that the connection between the spheres of humanitarianism, power, and politics becomes clearest. Here, I will not look at the meanings of the words or programmes of humanitarians; I am interested in the function of humanitarian language within the political sphere. In his work on Continue reading →

Humanitarian Spaces: Three Concepts for a History (Part 2)

This is part two in a series. For part one, see here. Part three will follow tomorrow. Structuring knowledge: If the Maussian concept can help to see social spaces with dynamic and asymmetric power relations, theories developed by Foucault can sharpen the understanding of the institutionalization of knowledge as a strategy of governance. In the field of humanitarianism the example is the standardization and dissemination of knowledge.[1] Many books have been written on missions and operations, but little research has been done on the development Continue reading →

Humanitarian Spaces: Three Concepts for a History (Part 1)

This is the first post in a series of three. Parts two and three will be published on subsequent days. In his book Empire of Humanity, Michael Barnett outlines some of the strengths and contradictions of humanitarianism using the notion of “empires.” First, he applies this notion to the definition of humanitarianism: “What distinguishes humanitarianism from previous acts of compassion is that it is organized and part of governance, connects the immanent to the transcendent, and is directed at those in other lands.”[1] The question Continue reading →

Call for Applications: Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy

International Research Academy on the History of Global Humanitarianism Academy Leaders: Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz) Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz) Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter) in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva) and with support by the German Historical Institute London Venues: Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz & Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva Dates: 10-21 July 2017 Deadline: 31 December 2016 Information at: http://ghra.ieg-mainz.de/, http://hhr.hypotheses.org/ and http://imperialglobalexeter.com/ The Continue reading →

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 Continue reading →

“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,” Continue reading →