front_coverThis issue begins with political theorist Alexandre Lefebvre’s demonstration of Mary Wollstonecraft’s defense of the human rights in terms of “care of the self” rather than protection of others. It continues with two intrepid forays into twentieth-century international history by Lorenz Lüthi and Stuart Schrader. After turning to Michal Givoni’s brilliant and sensitive evaluation of a contemporary development in humanitarianism, the issue closes with four rich review essays, among others Simon Stevens’s pathbreaking assessment of where we stand in understanding the international mobilization against South African apartheid, and Pamela Beth Harris’s hard-hitting review of Stephen Hopgood’s much-discussed The Endtimes of Human Rights.


Mary Wollstonecraft, Human Rights, and the Care of the Self

The Care of the Self The phrase “care of the self” was coined by the French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault to designate what he saw as a long and coherent tradition in the history of morality. Indeed, care of the self—le souci de soi-même—is the defining concept of his later work, a period that saw the publication of two books, the delivery of five major lecture series (posthumously published), and roughly a dozen essays and interviews.1 Given that this concept underpins my interpretation of Read More »

Non-Alignment, 1946–1965: Its Establishment and Struggle against Afro-Asianism

The President and the Prime Minister desire to proclaim that the policy of non-alignment adopted and pursued by their respective countries is not “neutrality” or neutralism and therefore passivity as sometimes alleged, but is a positive, active and constructive policy seeking to lead to a collective peace. —Text of joint statement by Marshal Josip Tito and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, December 23, 19541 Introduction For many observers both then and now, the famous meeting of Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, and India’s Read More »

To Secure the Global Great Society: Participation in Pacification

In March 1971, a high-ranking U.S. official reflected on the past several years of novel poverty-alleviation programming. He described how the twinned mandate of “maximum participation of the people” and the “encouragement of local government institutions” formed the cornerstone of efforts to ameliorate dismal socioeconomic conditions that had for too long left many citizens bereft of hope for the future. Even worse, the desperate had been turning to violent means of social transformation. In many cities, he noted, a situation of “volatility”—unemployment among the “urban Read More »

Reluctant Cosmopolitanism: Perceptions Management and the Performance of Humanitarian Principles

This essay sets out to chart a new domain of humanitarian expertise: the study, monitoring, analysis, and management of the ways in which humanitarian actions are perceived in the disaster zones where they unfold. In recent years, a “growing cottage industry of perception studies” has cast the images that humanitarian interventions project as an indispensable object of empirical investigation.1 In several case-based studies produced by humanitarian organizations and research and consulting institutes, those images were not just mapped, explained, and reproduced but also delineated as Read More »

Toward a New Sociology of Human Rights?

The Sacredness of the Person: A New Genealogy of Human Rights Hans Joas Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, ix + 219. While disciplines such as law, political science, and history have now developed distinct subfields of human rights research, sociology has only recently started developing a clear research agenda with regard to human rights. Considering the importance of human rights in contemporary society as a legal, political, and moral phenomenon underpinning a whole array of social institutions, the late arrival of sociology is all the Read More »

The External Struggle against Apartheid: New Perspectives

Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order Ryan M. Irwin Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. ix + 244 pp. The Foundations of Anti-Apartheid: Liberal Humanitarians and Transnational Activists in Britain and the United States, 1919–64 Rob Skinner Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. vii + 258 pp. It has become a cliché to observe that the global anti-apartheid movement was one of the largest, most widely supported, longest sustained, most significant, and most successful transnational movements of the twentieth Read More »

The Laws of War: A Scrap of Paper?

Law and War edited by Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2014. xi + 235 pp. A Scrap of Paper: Breaking and Making International Law during the Great War Isabel V. Hull In September 2011, a squadron of American Predator drones took off from an airfield in Saudi Arabia. While flying across the Yemenite border, they spotted their main target: Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born member, according to U.S. officials, of Al Qaeda. Within minutes, an operator had fired Read More »

The Humanitarian God in the Political Marketplace

The Endtimes of Human Rights Stephen Hopgood Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2013. vii + 255 pp. Speaking Rights to Power: Constructing Political Will Alison Brysk Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. xi + 252 pp. Over a decade ago, David Kennedy asked supporters of international “human rights to think hard about whether the human rights movement might, on balance, and acknowledging its enormous achievement, be more part of the problem in today’s world than part of the solution.”1 Since then, powerful realist critiques of the Read More »

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