New Article: Gordon and Perugini, The Politics of Human Shielding

Gordon, Neve, and Nicola Perugini. “The Politics of Human Shielding: On the Resignification of Space and the Constitution of Civilians as Shields in Liberal Wars.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0263775815607478

 
Abstract

In this paper, we use Israel/Palestine as a case study to examine the politics of human shielding, while focusing on the epistemic and political operations through which the deployment of the legal category of human shield legitimizes the use of lethal force. After offering a concise genealogy of human shields in international law, we examine the way Israel used the concept in the 2014 Gaza war by analyzing a series of infographics spread by the IDF on social media. Exposing the connection between the re-signification of space and the constitution of a civilian as a shield, we maintain that the infographics are part of a broader apparatus of discrimination deployed by Israel to frame its violence post hoc in order to claim that this violence was utilized in accordance with international law. We conclude by arguing that the relatively recent appearance of human shields highlights the manifestation of a contemporary political antinomy: human shields have to continue to be considered protected civilians, but since they are considered an integral part of the hostilities they are transformed into killable subjects.

 

 

 

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New Article: Weiss, Humanitarian Sentiment and the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict

Weiss, Erica. “Provincializing Empathy: Humanitarian Sentiment and the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.” Anthropological Theory 15.3 (2015): 275-92.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1463499614568571

 

Abstract

This article considers the role of the humanitarian sentiment empathy in peace initiatives in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Recently, a sustained critique of humanitarianism has emerged. While many of these accounts focus on the ethical effects of specific manifestations of humanitarian governance, there is a significant strain criticizing the inherent logical structure of humanitarian empathy, and questioning the innate ability of the humanitarian tradition to understand ethical questions politically. This critique does not resonate with my fieldwork experiences with Jewish Israeli conscientious objectors, who are explicitly inspired by empathetic experiences with Palestinians, and interpret these experiences politically. Thus, following Dipesh Chakrabarty’s example, I suggest that provincializing the humanitarian tradition is a more productive anthropological stance than critique, because it similarly allows us to criticize universal claims and abuses of power, while not subscribing to determinism, and not repudiating our interlocutors’ core ethical beliefs.