Issue 5.3


hum.5.1_front_smOur new issue contains a diverse suite of articles — Jessica Whyte’s fascinating engagement with the theme of Robinson Crusoe in debates around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an example with a rich earlier philosophical history; Johanna Siméant’s probing sociological examination of the rise of “advocacy” in international affairs; and Peter Slezkine’s breakthrough account of the origins of Human Rights Watch. They are joined by Greg Girard’s photo essay “Phantom Shanghai” and our regular essay reviews, including Laleh Khalili’s fabulous reading of recent books on counterinsurgent warfare and Patrick W. Kelly’s historiographical digest of work on Latin America and human rights.


The Fortunes of Natural Man: Robinson Crusoe, Political Economy, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“What is at stake here,” the Lebanese United Nations delegate Charles Malik wrote of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), “is the determination of the nature of man.”1 As a student of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, Malik was intensely attuned to the philosophical significance of the attempt to formulate a list of basic rights.2 Reflecting on his own participation in the drafting process, Malik, who drafted the declaration’s preamble, noted that this posed three central questions: Is man an animal Read More »

Interpreting the Rise of International "Advocacy"

Translated by Susan Taponier Advocacy seems to have become a core term in the vocabulary of international rights.1 Today the world of international non-governmental organizations is characterized by the imperative to “advocate,” especially in the areas of development and humanitarian aid, as well as the defense of human rights and the environment. As early as 2002, Barry Coates and Rosalind David wrote, “Advocacy work has become the latest enthusiasm for most agencies involved in international aid and development. Over the past decade NGOs have dedicated Read More »

From Helsinki to Human Rights Watch: How an American Cold War Monitoring Group Became an International Human Rights Institution

Download PDF On September 7, 2010, George Soros gave Human Rights Watch (HRW) a $100 million grant, the largest in its history. “I’m afraid the United States has lost the moral high ground under the Bush administration, but the principles that Human Rights Watch promotes have not lost their universal applicability,” he said. “So to be more effective, I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization.”1 Today, it is taken for granted that HRW’s scope should be international Read More »

Shanghai as a City of Juxtapositions

According to a variety of texts—from guidebooks and travel accounts to, at least by inference, novels and later films—what made a trip to Shanghai in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries special was the way one encountered there a jumble of people from, and physical elements linked to, various parts of the world. It was, as boosters and travelers both liked to stress, a place of great cultural diversity, where the East and West were juxtaposed in special ways. This sense of the city Read More »

Interview with Greg Girard

Jeffrey Wasserstrom: How do you see your Phantom Shanghai fitting in with—or perhaps challenging—the sketch I’ve offered in this issue of the city moving from one defined more by juxtapositions of cultures to one in which juxtapositions of eras is as important?1 I’ve left some important things out, of course, such as juxtapositions of classes, something that is related to both of the other sorts of juxtaposition. Greg Girard: Shanghai’s past as a city run by Westerners continues to fascinate Westerners and others, and there Read More »

Phantom Shanghai

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Beyond Sticks and Carrots: Local Agency in Counterinsurgency

The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945–1967 David French, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. x + 283 pp. Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgency Laleh Khalili, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. xiii + 347 pp. Counterinsurgency—in theory and practice—has made a stunning comeback after its high point from the wars of liberation in the 1950s to the dying embers of the Iberian empires in the 1970s. While their wounds were still fresh, those episodes, whose most infamous cases include the wars of national Read More »

Scholar, Pope, Soldier, Spy

Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present Max Boot, New York: Liveright, 2013. xxiv + 784 pp. All In: The Education of General David Petraeus Paula Broadwell with Vernon Loeb, New York: Penguin, 2012. xxiv + 394 pp. The Fourth Star: Four Generals and Their Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army David Cloud and Greg Jaffe, New York: Three Rivers Press, 2009. 330 pp. The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the Read More »

On the Poverty and Possibility of Human Rights in Latin American History

Human Rights and Transnational Solidarity in Cold War Latin America Jessica Stites Mor, ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013. x + 264 pp. We Cannot Remain Silent: Opposition to the Brazilian Military Dictatorship in the United States James N. Green Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. xiv + 472 pp. If the global history of human rights has expanded considerably in the past ten years, much of it still remains unwritten.1 This is especially the case when it comes to Latin America. Indeed, Latin Read More »