Issue 13.2


Our Summer 2022 issue is out! It features an essay on the Mande “Hunters’ Oath”—including the first full translation of the text from Mandenkan into English—as well as articles on a humanizing monetary ontology that advances the work of Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire; the shifting focus from land-based idioms of humanitarianism to maritime aid; a conceptual history of China’s advocacy for a “human community of fate”; the strategic quantification of civilian casualties in Afghanistan; state and humanitarian coordination in Lebanon and its unintended impact on Syrian refugees; and populist appropriations of human rights discourse.



The World Won’t Listen: The Mande “Hunters’ Oath” and Human Rights in Translation

Abstract: Two texts have recently been hailed as examples of an autochthonous tradition of Human Rights and constitutional government in West Africa. Associated with thirteenth-century Mali empire, both the “Hunters’ Oath” and the better-known “Kurukan Fuga” have been referred to as “the Mande Charter.” Focused on the Hunters’ Oath, this article offers the first full translation of it from the original into English. It recounts the history of the Oath in print, highlighting the work of two late Malian intellectuals, Youssouf Tata Cissé and Wâ Read More »

Humanization as Money: Modern Monetary Theory and the Critique of Race

Abstract: In this article, we build on the work of Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire to develop a relational understanding of dehumanization and humanization through money. We first show that Fanon and Freire share a critical normative vision of humanization, which they conceptualize as that which occurs when people reject dehumanizing practices that deny their agency, begin to grasp their world-in-common, and emerge as historical agents who remake it. In a second step, we advance Fanon’s and Freire’s vision by identifying the constitutive and dehumanizing Read More »

“Ambulances of the Sea”: The Terracization of Maritime Aid

Abstract: Humanitarian agencies assisting migrants and refugees at sea have historically described search and rescue ships as “floating hospitals” or “ambulances for the sea.” This strategy of terracization has allowed them to dial down the political rhetoric that pervades discussions of rescue. However, more contemporary aid workers have come to reject the tactic, criticizing the use of land-based idiom as a neutralizing tool. Based on archival research and in-depth interviews conducted between 2019 and 2020, this article charts such a volte-face of humanitarian thinking. It Read More »

The Human Community of Fate: A Conceptual History of China’s Ordoglobal Idea

Abstract: Since 2012, advocacy of a “community of shared future for mankind” or “human community of fate” (人类命运共同体) has become China’s most important foreign relations principle. The platform has become synonymous with Beijing’s positions on global governance, along with its related initiatives. This article traces the concept’s genealogy from the early twentieth-century European notion of Schicksalsgemeinschaft, through its varying invocations in corporatist as well as ordoliberal discourse in Europe and East Asia, and into the present. Pairing stable market order with insulation from democratic pressures, Read More »

Counting Conflict: Quantifying Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

Abstract: Civilian casualty counts are products of specific methods, epistemologies, standards of proofs, and definitions. This article analyzes how the US military and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan assess civilian casualties. These counts are based on different and contestable concepts of who counts as a civilian, what counts as conflict violence, and what counts of evidence of civilian casualties. We illustrate this argument with four examples: the distinction between direct and indirect deaths, the boundary between civilians and non-civilians, the boundary between conflict Read More »

Coordinating Care and Coercion: Styles of Sovereignty and the Politics of Humanitarian Aid in Lebanon

Abstract: This article explores how participatory planning on the Syrian refugee response in Lebanon has transformed the localized relationship between humanitarian care and state coercion. I argue that the Lebanese Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) has yielded a form of practical coordination between state and humanitarian actors that unintentionally increases the vulnerability of the country’s Syrian population. As the Lebanese government uses legal means to crack down on and re-displace impoverished refugees––most notably through mass evictions and business closures that began in 2017––they generate repeated small Read More »

Human Rights Populism

Abstract: Human rights are typically thought of as the anti-thesis of populism, a precarious bulwark against majoritarian political passions and their sometimes toxic brand of anti-elitist demagoguery. This tends to neglect the extent to which certain Western populist movements have themselves increasingly instrumentalized human rights to better feed into racist and xenophobic discourses. This raises uncomfortable questions for the human rights movement and has a tendency to radicalize unresolved tensions that go to its very intellectual foundation. The article suggests that the human rights response Read More »