Author Archives: Nicolas Guilhot

About Nicolas Guilhot

Senior researcher at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and deputy director of CIRHUS (Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences) at New York University. He has previously taught at the London School of Economics and at Columbia University. His books include The Invention of International Relations Theory: Realism, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the 1954 Conference on Theory (Columbia, 2011); and The Democracy Makers: Human Rights and the Politics of Global Order (Columbia, 2005). He is currently working on a history of international relations theory titled Morgenthau's Flight: International Relations from Decisionism to Rational Choice.

The Anthropologist as Witness: Humanitarianism between Ethnography and Critique

Guilhot takes stock of two recent publications, Didier Fassin’s La raison humanitaire and Erica Bornstein’s and Peter Redfield’s Forces of Compassion, to question the relationship between anthropology and humanitarianism. Increasingly, as the anthropologist’s field has been reconfigured by humanitarian intervention, humanitarianism has become a subject of critical anthropological inquiry. Guilhot focuses on the way in which the various authors under review negotiate the tension between ethnography and critique, and emphasizes the limits of the current critique of humanitarianism, which sees in humanitarianism a “de-historicizing” and “de-politicizing” force.

The irrelevance of democracy promotion

As Sam Moyn has pointed out in his previous post, the events in Tunisia and Egypt have triggered a revival of sorts of “democracy promotion.” Yesterday, the New York Times ran a feature about “the return of pushing democracy” that explored how current events are used by some supporters of the previous administration to suggest that George W.