Humanitarianism and Responsibility--special issue of Journal of Human Rights--submissions due Sept 1, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Kerry Bystrom and Glenn Mitoma, University of Connecticut
contact email: 

As part of a wider analysis of discourses of responsibility in contemporary humanitarian activity, this special issue will examine how advocacy campaigns and relief projects that fall outside of the more established arenas of the UN and major international NGOs construct and disseminate particular conceptions of global responsibility. Along with the news media, the Product (RED) campaign, the fair trade movement, micro-finance websites such as Kiva, charity events like "Hope for Haiti Now" and the promotion of specific novels and films like Starbucks' advocacy for Ishmael Beah's memoir A Long Way Gone all serve as cultural arbiters of a dynamic "ethos of humanitarianism" broadly disseminated among a privileged transnational public sphere.

We invite essays that explore these and other campaigns and cultural texts aimed at producing senses of transnational or global responsibility. Beyond assessing the impact of this diffuse advocacy work, such essays might unpack the dynamics and the ethical dimensions of the way such campaigns configure chains of responsibility and causality between "victims" of humanitarian crises and individuals in a position to respond, whether this be through what Lisa Ann Richey and Stefano Ponte call "compassionate consumption," political activism, or more traditional forms of charity.

Submissions for this special issue (6,000 to 8,000 words, inclusive of notes and bibliography) be sent to both editors no later than September 1, 2011. All submissions should be original, unpublished work and will be subject to peer review. Editorial decisions will be announced by November 1, 2011 and final drafts will be due December 15, 2011. The special issue is scheduled to appear in Dececmber 2012. The editors are happy to discuss potential contributions in advance of a formal submission, as well as to answer other queries. They can be contacted via email: and