Contemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions

TitleContemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsFassin, Didier, and Mariella Pandolfi
Number of Pages403
PublisherZone Books
CityNew York
Abstract

From natural disaster areas to zones of political conflict around the world, a new logic of intervention combines military action and humanitarian aid, conflates moral imperatives and political arguments, and confuses the concepts of legitimacy and legality. The mandate to protect human lives -- however and wherever endangered -- has given rise to a new form of humanitarian government that moves from one crisis to the next, applying the same battery of technical expertise (from military logistics to epidemiological risk management to the latest social scientific tools for "good governance") and reducing people with particular histories and hopes to mere lives to be rescued. This book explores these contemporary states of emergency. Drawing on the critical insights of anthropologists, legal scholars, political scientists, and practitioners from the field, this volume examines historical antecedents as well as the moral, juridical, ideological, and economic conditions that have made military and humanitarian interventions common today. It addresses the practical process of intervention in global situations on five continents, describing both differences and similarities, and examines the moral and political consequences of these generalized states of emergency and the new form of government associated with them. Finally, it investigates the ethical and political consequences of the generalization of states of emergency and the humanitarian government that they entail. The authors thus seek to understand a critical question that confronts the world today: How and why have military and humanitarian interventions transformed the international order such that what was once a logic of exception has now become the rule of contemporary global politics?

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