Author Archives: Alberto Toscano

About Alberto Toscano

Reader in critical theory in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His most recent book, Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (Verso, 2010), explores the history of the pejorative perception of uncompromising politics in Western thought, tracing how the menace of extremist abstraction continues to determine much of our thinking about secularism, religion, and militancy. His Cartographies of the Absolute (co-authored with Jeff Kinkle), on the aesthetics of contemporary capitalism, is forthcoming in 2014. He sits on the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism and is the series editor of The Italian List at Seagull Books.


This review article explores the incisive critiques of contemporary humanitarianism advanced in Meister’s After Evil and Weizman’s The Least of All Possible Evils. Read jointly, the two books allow us to move beyond generic invocations of ethics and liberal visions of international law, in order to explore deeply problematic dimensions of the politics of human rights. Meister’s analysis of “human rights discourse” reveals a technology of time that infinitely postpones justice in the name of a pacifying transition, while Weizman’s chronicling of the spatial strategies of humanitarianism shows us how the calculated lessening of evil is one of the foremost figures of neo-colonial and neo-imperial violence today. Continue reading →