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Lancement de la revue Humanity (University of Pennsylvania Press)

Publié par University of Pennsylvania Press, Humanity est un journal qui entend promouvoir l’analyse interdisciplinaire et critique des pratiques qui se donnent l’ « humanité » pour objet – droits de l’homme, aide humanitaire, doctrines militaires (/human terrain/), développement, etc. – et plus largement de toute forme de biopolitique. En ouvrant ses pages à des interventions diversifiées – anthropologie, sociologie, théorie politique, histoire, mais aussi théorie littéraire, photographie, journalisme – Humanity entend préciser les contours des politiques de l’humanité qui tendent aujourd’hui à devenir le principal langage du politique.
Humanity paraîtra initialement au rythme de deux numéros par an, avant de devenir une publication trimestrielle. Le premier numéro est prévu pour l’automne 2010. La revue accepte d’évaluer des contributions écrites en français, mais uniquement dans la perspective d’une publication en anglais, dont les modalités seront à définir avec les éditeurs. Pour toute question ou soumission, contacter Nicolas Guilhot (nicolas.guilhot@gmail.com)

Collectif Editorial : Editor : Samuel Moyn (Columbia University) ; Executive Editor : Nicolas Guilhot, (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, New York) ; Coeditors : Nehal Bhuta (New School for Social Research), Nils Gilman (Monitor Group), Joseph R. Slaughter (Columbia University), Miriam Ticktin (New School for Social Research).

Editorial statement : "Only Human"

In recent decades, the traditional politics of ideological contest has been strikingly 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 that 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 expanded to address the acute humanitarian crises once treated as more episodic and temporary conditions. The distinctions between the categories of human rights, humanitarianism, and development – which were once largely discrete — have eroded under the pressures of contemporary international politics, resource wars, and global policy. The integration of human rights, humanitarianism, and development under the rubric of “humanity” has meant, for better and worse, the disintegration of the traditional meanings and applications of each. This convergence of the three concepts within a larger politics of humanity is arguably one of the signature phenomena of our time.
The global politics of humanity legitimates itself not on the old foundation of international humanitarian law or the more recent elaboration of international human rights ; rather, it derives its legitimacy from its claimed authority to generate new legal and political orders, to shape new social realities and relations, to establish new economic imperatives and interests, to forge new cultural connections and values, and to define new justifications for national and international security interventions. And while the global politics of humanity is emphatically a politics with a redemptive horizon, at least in its urge to mend, ameliorate or even transform circumstances of disorder and atrocity, the very aspirational quality of the politics of humanity that lends it appeal often immunizes it from critical inquiry. The humanity to which activists and governments appeal – or hope to bring about —is never the same in each context, or even for all actors in the same project. These unacknowledged tensions, indeed, help define this novel form of global politics.
And yet, no English-language journal provides a single forum for the dispassionate, analytically focused examination of these trends and the consequent transformations in political understandings that have reshaped the terms of liberation and idealism as well as the practices of domination and control. For a number of years now, scholars working in their respective fields, publishing mostly in disciplinary journals, have been analyzing this convergence — its formative history and future implications. Many powerful insights about these transformations have emerged from diverse fields such 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. With /Humanity/, we hope to reduce some of the barriers to conversation between scholars in various disciplines and between academics and practitioners. /Humanity /seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum to facilitate inquiry into the movement of human rights, humanitarianism, and development towards a politics of humanity—because “humanity” itself is a multidisciplinary question.
Existing journals devoted to the topics of human rights, humanitarianism, or development tend to remain tightly tethered to the agendas of the causes that gave them their original purpose and continuing energy ; the journals exist to advance that cause, and their operating assumption is that the purpose of reflective activity and critique is to refine and reform policies and best practices. Promotion and reform have their place, of course ; but so too should analysis and critique, not just of methods, metrics, and goals but also of ideals and ideologies. The disposition of /Humanity /is not skepticism (not for its own sake) about these various projects ; however, it will prize analytical distance from them. The journal’s mission is to explore the insight that invocations of humanity never tell the whole truth about the practices they explain, contest, defend, or advance. Universalist projects have always been, and will always be, particular in their content, scope, and execution—just as scholars and activists for humanity, like those they seek to study and to help, are themselves only human.

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