The latest issue of Humanity is out! Its special dossier interrogates recent humanitarian laws on the protection of healthcare workers, with essays examining various histories of attacks on healthcare in the long twentieth century. The issue also includes essays on a new politics of care as an alternative political framework to that of human rights; Carl Schmitt’s tenets of international law; and Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s racial and cultural ideas on political economy.



From Human Rights to a Politics of Care

For some time now human rights have served as the global moral yardstick used to evaluate governmental and corporate policies and practices.1 The widespread acceptance of human rights as the dominant moral framework in the national and international arena has, without doubt, propelled a range of discursive and institutional changes.2 This acceptance is reflected in the way that liberal and conservative governments as well as many corporations have integrated the language of human rights into their policies. Simultaneously, human rights have become part of mainstream culture through their incorporation Read More »

"Blood is Stronger than Class": Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Global Culture of Poverty

Abstract This article examines the continuities between Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s critique of the US welfare state and the War on Poverty in the 1960s, and his response to the New International Economic Order and North-South politics in the 1970s. The connections between these two episodes help explain why neoconservatives embraced a sharply different view of political economy by the 1980s, and grew increasingly invested in foreign policy questions. The article argues that Moynihan’s ideas across these decades were united by an insistence on cultural and Read More »

Governing Hegemonic Spaces in Carl Schmitt: Colonialism, Anti-Imperialism and the Großraum Theory

Abstract: With both China and Russia currently claiming a hegemonic position within a regionally defined and allegedly state-border transcending space, Carl Schmitt’s theory of international law has gained new prominence in feuilletons and academic writings. Observers have diagnosed a “Schmitt fever” in Chinese literature on international relations and international law. The article argues that Schmitt’s advocacy of hegemonically dominated and state-border transcending spaces (Großräume) is not a principled contradiction to his then ground-breaking critique of US imperialism in the first half of the 20th century. Read More »

Introduction: History Writing and Attacks on Healthcare

Abstract Since Médecins sans Frontières’ denunciations of the 2015 bombings of hospitals by the United States and Russia in Afghanistan and Syria, respectively, subsequent polemics have taken scholarly and policy debates about Attacks on Healthcare (AoH) in new directions and called on history to better understand their origins and wider long-term impacts. Despite increased calls for more rigorous data collection and research on the social, behavioral, psychological and economic impacts of AoH, recent international meetings organized in the wake of the fifth anniversary of the Read More »

Neutrality as a Contested Concept in International Humanitarian Law: Red Cross Men in the South African War, 1899–1902

Abstract This article explores contestations over what constituted medical personnel, hospitals, and ambulances during the South African War (1899 – 1902). It shows that Boer fighters and British soldiers held differing conceptions of what constituted medical ‘neutrality’ and the meaning of the 1864 Geneva Convention. Analysing their contests over ‘neutrality’, it shows their diverse legal understandings were influenced by pre-existing medical cultures, the nature of guerrilla conflict, and British portrayals of the Boers as ‘uncivilised’ and so outside the realm of international law. These contests Read More »

Under the "Best Possible Protection"? Violence and Medical Care in British Warships and Hospital Ships During the Second World War

Abstract In 1940 the British state formally protested to the German government about a recent string of attacks violating the neutrality of hospital ships. Ensuing arguments in Britain about effective ways of preserving hospital ship safety from acts of enemy violence also broadened out to include discussions of how to ensure the ‘best possible protection’ of medical staff serving in British warships during the Second World War. Examining the sea as a significant yet neglected humanitarian space in scholarship of the international laws of war, Read More »

Attacks Against Military Doctors in the French Overseas Cooperation: A Predicament of State Humanitarianism in the 1970s

Abstract This study of French military medical cooperation missions argues that the violence often experienced by French doctors in conflict zones in the 1970s was mainly the result of their vulnerable position as both military personnel and “humanitarian” provider. They enjoy little or no protection under the principle of medical neutrality and are caught up in a duel of loyalties arising from their dual status as doctors and soldiers. More broadly, this article contributes to understand the progressive rise of AoH before the ‘paradigm shift’ Read More »

"Like a Yam Between Two Stones": Remembering Healthcare at War in Nepal (1996–2006)

Abstract The Nepal civil war (1996-2006) opposed a rural Maoist insurrection and a succession of monarchical regimes and governments. Despite a shift in perception of the conflict post 9/11, the conflict remained largely internal to Nepal with limited international involvement. Over that same period, health indicators in most domains recorded significant improvements including in the areas most affected by the conflict. Building on human rights datasets of violent incidents and systematic oral history in three regions affected to varying degrees by the conflict, this article Read More »

Ebola's Inferno: The Limits of Community Engagement and Neutrality During Politicized Health Emergencies

Abstract The surge in violence against healthcare during the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was attributed to distrust from insufficient community engagement. This article challenges the widespread view and argues that the response failed to acknowledge the politicized nature of the outbreak stemming from the government’s election interference. The humanitarians’ desire to remain neutral prevented them from speaking out against the government, leading to the paradoxical outcome that they were perceived as supporting the government’s oppressive agenda. This article highlights the Read More »

Postscript: Researching the Impact of Attacks on Healthcare Today

The violence and atrocities of war are well documented by a range of scholars and practitioners. Likewise, counting, cataloging, and narrating the human costs of such violence has preoccupied academics from various disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.1 The essays in this special issue are no exception. They adopt a historiographical frame to analyse the particularities of violence against a specific set of civilians: those providing health and medical care in war. Together, they offer an insightful examination of the codification, interpretation, and origins of the legal frameworks Read More »