A New Global Morality? The Politics of Human Rights and Humanitarianism in the 1970s

A New Global Morality? The Politics of Human Rights and Humanitarianism in the 1970s

Jan Eckel (University of Freiburg); Samuel Moyn (Columbia University); with Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (Center for Contemporary History Potsdam)
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
Freiburg im Breisgau
Vom - Bis
10.06.2010 - 13.06.2010
Jan Eckel, Samuel Moyn

In recent years, historians have discovered the 1970s as a transformative phase in the history of international politics, giving rise to new perceptions of global problems and new styles of international action, which reshaped the politics of states and non-state actors alike. The surge of human rights and humanitarianism can be understood as both an expression of and a catalyst for this global shift. This exploratory workshop will bring together scholars working in the field in order to pool results and debate explanation for what appears to be a discontinuous moment in the evolution of human rights and humanitarianism as concepts and political practices.

Some possible areas of focus for presentations include: the histories of international institutions, the percolation of human rights in domestic politics and as a foreign policy ethic, the rise of new forms of popular and private advocacy, the relegitimization of international intervention, the explosion of “dissidence” and its international reception, the agitation around Latin American authoritarianism, new visibility for human catastrophe in Africa and Asia, the selectivity of moral responses framed as either based on rights or on humanitarianism, or the trajectory of international law.

The focus of the workshop is on the 1970s in the broader sense of a transformative period that marks a break with the patterns underlying international politics in the early Cold War and decolonization eras. Proposals that examine the meaning of human rights and humanitarianism outside a North Atlantic perspective (including the reception of North Atlantic advocacy in southern locales) are especially to be welcomed. The main goal of the event is not simply to share knowledge but fit various new research ventures into a larger explanatory framework.

The workshop will be held at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, which will also cover all costs.

If you are interested in presenting a paper, please send a short abstract of your proposed paper (at a maximum of 500 words), an abstract of your ongoing research related to the subject of the workshop (at a maximum of 500 words), and a curriculum vitae (all in English) to the following email address:


The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2009. Participants will then be asked to submit a position paper by April 1, 2010. The workshop will be held in English.



Jan Eckel

Historisches Seminar der Universität Freiburg


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