The Humanity of Universal Crime: Inclusion, Inequality, and Intervention in International Political Thought

The Humanity of Universal Crime: Inclusion, Inequality, and Intervention in International Political Thought

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Author/Contributor(s): Graf, Sinja
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Date: 03/01/2021
Binding: Hardcover
Condition: NEW
The international crime of crimes against humanity has become integral to contemporary political and legal discourse. However, the conceptual core of the term--an act against all of mankind--has a longer and deeper history in international political thought. In an original excavation of this
history, The Humanity of Universal Crime examines theoretical mobilizations of the idea of universal crime in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Sinja Graf demonstrates the overlooked centrality of humanity and criminality to political liberalism's historical engagement with world politics,
thereby breaking with the exhaustively studied status of individual rights in liberal thought. Graf argues that invocations of universal crime project humanity as a normatively integrated, yet minimally inclusive and hierarchically structured subject. Such visions of humanity have in turn
underwritten justifications of foreign rule and outsider intervention based on claims to an injury universally suffered by all mankind.

Foregrounding the political productivity of universal crime, the book traces the intellectual history of the rise, fall, and reappearance of notions of universal crime in political theory over time. It looks particularly at the way European theorists have deployed the concept in assessing the
legitimacy of colonial rule and foreign intervention in non-European societies. The book argues that an inclusionary Eurocentrism subtends the authorizing and coercive dimensions of universal crime. Unlike much-studied exclusionary Eurocentrist thinking, inclusionary Eurocentrist arguments
have historically extended an unequal, repressive recognition via liability to non-European peoples. Overall the book offers a novel view of how claims to act in the name of humanity are deeply steeped in practices that reproduce structures of inequality at a global level, particularly across
political empires.