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 for its links with Western arrogance, while also reimagining it as a legitimately inclusive foundation from which to confront global inequity.
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In our new issue we feature Amy Kapczynski’s essay on neoliberalism and the right to medicine. Also in this issue are essays on Armenians and the history of humanitarian evacuations, the changing politics of squatting in Britain, Chinese Humanism, and the genre of NGO reports in India. We end with a review essay on the attempt to outlaw war.View entire issue >
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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. Attempting the Impossible, Doing the Necessary Sometimes, in trying to think through the history of the present, it’s helpful to begin at the end and work your way back. The reader who takes this approach to Ayça Çubukçu’s For the Love of Humanity: The World Tribunal on Iraq will be Continue reading →
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. For the Love of Humanity tells the story of the global anti-war movement’s efforts to put the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies on trial for crimes committed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is an intensely creative and also a vexing book. How it troubles Continue reading →