The University of Pennsylvania Press, with support from The Mellon Foundation, announces the launch of our new journal, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development.
In recent decades, the traditional contest of left and right has been displaced by a politics of humanity. In both domestic and international contexts, the languages of human rights and humanitarianism are often marshaled as moral claims that bolster diverse global enterprises of governance, intervention, and reform. And development—a Cold War project—has evolved beyond economic or institutional concerns. Now encompassing matters once targeted in human rights activism, it has also expanded to address the acute humanitarian crises once treated as episodic and temporary.
This convergence of the concepts of human rights, humanitarianism, and development within a larger politics of humanity is one of the signature phenomena of our time. The global politics of humanity legitimates itself not on the old foundation of settled international law but on new promises to generate new legal and political orders, to shape new social realities and relations, to forge new cultural connections and values. Human rights advocates find themselves involved in the rebuilding of political regimes, economic structures and the very social fabric of societies. Political advisers and academics of various persuasions engage in nation-building. Embedded anthropologists reengineer traditional social structures in the midst of military occupations. More than ever, politics aims at generating specific forms of life, and the celebrated decline of state sovereignty seems to coincide with the rise of biopower.
This new journal provides a single forum for the dispassionate, analytically focused examination of these trends. Humanity will explore the transformations in political understandings that have reshaped the terms of liberation and idealism as well as the practices of domination and control. While the global politics of humanity is emphatically a politics with an urge to mend, ameliorate, or even transform circumstances of disorder and atrocity, its very aspirational quality often immunizes it from critical inquiry. For a number of years now, scholars have been analyzing this convergence -- its formative history and future implications. Many powerful insights about these transformations have emerged from fields as diverse as anthropology, history, law, literature, philosophy, and sociology. Too often, however, this work has remained cloistered from scholars in other fields (and the world of practice), even though much of it shares a common intellectual genealogy; and the centripetal force of the disciplines has tended to perpetuate the divide between the social sciences and the humanities, even though both have a common stake in the world. As it welds these diverse enterprises in one space, Humanity will not offer skepticism for its own sake about various projects on the terrain of human rights, humanitarianism, and development. It will, however, prize analytical distance from them.
Humanity welcomes contributions from all disciplines of the humanities and the social sciences but also seeks to publish visual interventions – notably photographic material – as well as occasional interviews shedding light on the contested politics of humanity.
Contributions (which are peer-reviewed) should generally run 8,000 to 11,000 words, including apparatus, but both shorter and longer pieces are potentially viable. Also invited are thematic essay reviews, combining at least two recent books, between 5,000 and 7,000 words. Anyone interested in pursuing publication in the journal can write to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samuel Moyn, Editor
Nehal Bhuta, Coeditor
Nils Gilman, Coeditor
Nicolas Guilhot, Executive Editor
Joseph R. Slaughter, Coeditor
Miriam Ticktin, Coeditor
In the first issue, look for…
Michel Agier on the politics of refugees, asylum, and camps
Isaie Dougnon on global humanitarianism and African child-trafficking
Lynn Festa on distance, empathy, and the origins of “humanity”
Martti Koskenniemi on mainstreaming human rights
Andrew Lakoff on two regimes of global public health
And other texts, including a war photography dossier and an essay review.
For additional information about the journal, please contact
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
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