Statement of the Editorial Collective In recent decades, the traditional politics of ideological contest has been displaced by a politics of humanity. In many realms, left and right have given way to life and death. In both domestic and international contexts, the languages of human rights and humanitarianism are often spectacularly marshaled as moral claims to bolster multifarious policies and practices. And development—a central Cold War discourse—has evolved beyond strictly economic or institutional concerns to encompass matters once targeted in human rights activism and has Continue reading →
The title of this essay is not simply an echo of Woody Allen’s neurotic reversal of Emily Dickinson’s ‘‘Hope is the thing with Feathers’’; it alludes, of course, to the venerable enumerative definition, as old as Plato, of man as a ‘‘featherless biped capable of speech and reason.’’
The Iraq war has certainly blurred the distinction between reporting and waging war, turning information into a strategic weapon. It also triggered the beginning of ‘‘embeddedness’’ as a new military practice of control, ﬁrst with journalists, but now extended to civilian researchers such as anthropologists. Kael Alford tells us how her ‘‘unembedded’’ project was conceived.
Agier offers an assessment of contemporary humanitarianism and appeals to humanity that juxtaposes a survey of camps with ethnographic reportage. According to Agier, contemporary humanitarianism must be understood as a new and unprecedented form of government that nevertheless leaves room for unsuspected political action.
The movement for global health is an increasingly prominent rationale for action across a range of organizations, including philanthropic foundations, development agencies, and biomedical research institutes.
This essay is a comment on the proposal by human rights activists and lawyers, made in various international and domestic contexts, for ‘‘mainstreaming’’ human rights into an aspect of the regular business of (international) governance.
What is the human? One way to confront this question has been, since antiquity, to distinguish the human from the animal, or rather to ask how humans are not just animals. It is well known that Aristotle’s answer was to affirm that ‘‘man is by nature a political animal’’ and that speech—or language—yields him this exclusive quality by giving him ‘‘a sense of good and evil, of just and unjust.’’
In the global history of human rights in the twentieth century, decolonization is one of the most interesting fields to study. The independence of practically all of Africa’s and Asia’s nations, gained in the almost miraculously short span of the two decades after the Second World War, was one of the most dramatic processes of political emancipation in world history.
In the weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it has become easy to forget, large parts of the world were grappling sympathetically with the victims of the spectacular destruction of the World Trade Center and other devastation of that day. A spontaneous outpouring of compassion and empathy was palpable during those early days, both within the United States and outside its borders. ‘‘We are all Americans,’’ the French and Italian dailies famously declared.