Statement of the Editorial Collective

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 →

Humanity without Feathers

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.’’

Unembedding War Photography: An Interview with Kael Alford

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.

Ethics of Survival: A Democratic Approach to the Politics of Life

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.’’

On Terrorism as Human Sacrifice

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.