In the Name of Humanity

The Government of Threat and Care

In the Name of Humanity

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: 10 photographs Published: November 2010

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

Scientists, activists, state officials, NGOs, and others increasingly claim to speak and act on behalf of “humanity.” The remarkable array of circumstances in which humanity is invoked testifies to the category’s universal purchase. Yet what exactly does it mean to govern, fight, and care in the name of humanity? In this timely collection, leading anthropologists and cultural critics grapple with that question, examining configurations of humanity in relation to biotechnologies, the natural environment, and humanitarianism and human rights. From the global pharmaceutical industry, to forest conservation, to international criminal tribunals, the domains they analyze highlight the diversity of spaces and scales at which humanity is articulated.

The editors argue that ideas about humanity find concrete expression in the governing work that operationalizes those ideas to produce order, prosperity, and security. As a site of governance, humanity appears as both an object of care and a source of anxiety. Assertions that humanity is being threatened, whether by environmental catastrophe or political upheaval, provide a justification for the elaboration of new governing techniques. At the same time, humanity itself is identified as a threat (to nature, to nation, to global peace) which governance must contain. These apparently contradictory understandings of the relation of threat to the category of humanity coexist and remain in tension, helping to maintain the dynamic co-production of governance and humanity.

Contributors. Arun Agrawal, Joao Biehl , Didier Fassin, Allen Feldman, Ilana Feldman, Rebecca Hardin, S. Lochann Jain, Liisa Malkki, Adriana Petryna, Miriam Ticktin, Richard Ashby Wilson, Charles Zerner


“Most of the chapters in In the Name of the Humanity raise more questions than answers, but this makes it an ideal book both for courses on human
rights and globalization and for scholars working on human rights, humanitarian interventions, and globalization more generally. The accounts are remarkably balanced, neither cheerleading for globalization under the name of humanity nor pushing a relentlessly bleak image of globalization as neoliberalism.” — Jonathan Simon, Political Theory

“In a complex world where competing groups claim to be speaking on behalf of incommensurate versions of ‘humanity,’ the authors represented in In the Name of Humanity ask not what humanity is but what are the epistemic, market, and governmental logics and environmental parsings that fashion humanity and the humans who will inhabit humanity in the twenty-first century.” — Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism

“Like ‘nature,’ ‘humanity’ is a Protean concept that confers immense capacity on those able to act in its name. Exploring the term and its effects from three key vantage points—humanitarianism, medicine, and environment—the papers in this outstanding collection offer up a stream of provocative insights and challenging perspectives. In the Name of Humanity is sure to become an essential reference point for future discussions of the human, its outsides, and its negations.” — Hugh Raffles, author of Insectopedia


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ilana Feldman is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University. She is the author of Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917–67, also published by Duke University Press.

Miriam Ticktin is Assistant Professor in Anthropology and in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Government and Humanity / Ilana Feldman and Miriam Ticktin 1

When Humanity Sits in Judgment: Crimes Against Humanity and the Conundrum of Race and Ethnicity at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda / Richard Ashby Wilson 27

Children, Humanity, and the Infantilization of Peace / Liisa Malkki 58

Narrative, Humanity, and Patrimony in an Equatorial African Forest / Rebecca Hardin 86

Inhumanitas: Political Speciation, Animality, Natality, Defacement / Allen Feldman 115

"Medication is me now": Human Values and Political Life in the Wake of Global AIDS Treatment / Joao Biehl 151

Environment, Community, Government / Arun Agrawal 190

The Mortality Effect: Counting the Dead in the Cancer Trial / S. Lochlann Jain 218

Inequality of Lives, Hierarchies of Humanity: Moral Commitments and Ethical Dilemmas of Humanitarianism / Didier Fassin 238

The Politics of Experimentality / Adriana Petryna 256

Stealth Nature: Biomimesis and the Weaponization of Life / Charles Zerner 290

Bibliography 325

Contributors 359

Index 363
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4821-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4810-8
Publicity material