Abstracts Vol. 27, No. 1

REDESCRIBING HUMAN RIGHTS Anthony J. Langlois

The 1998 Northedge Essay demonstrates that an integral part of Richard Rorty's 'postmodernist bourgeois liberalism' is the 'human rights culture' which has grown steadily around the world since the end of the Second World War. Rorty seeks to establish a new way of talking about human rights that is not entrapped by the metaphysical and essentialist doctrines they are usually associated with. The article uses general criticisms against Rorty's liberalism and focuses them on his approach to human rights.

BEFORE THE SUMMIT: REPRESENTATIONS OF SOVEREIGNTY ON THE HIMALAYAS Costas M. Constantinou.

This article seeks to show how the concept of sovereignty is employed as a timeless or ahistorical given to reify the Himalayan region but also how the political discourse in and concerning the Himalayas can be used as a resource to deconstruct and rethink sovereignty. It examines firstly the politically significant alliance between the application of sovereignty and the logic of representation. It then moves to consider how the discourse of sovereignty objectified the Himalayas during the British colonial period, and how it currently figures in and frames the debates concerning 'sovereignty' over the issue of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama of Tibet. It concludes by suggesting that the conventional wisdom about sovereignty tends to underestimate the political effects of the language employed to explain it.

ECONOMIC NATIONALISM: BRINGING THE NATION BACK IN George T. Crane.

This article reconsiders economic nationalism in three ways. First, the literature on economic nationalism is reviewed. The concerns of state have overshadowed the intricacies of national identity in most treatments of economic nationalism and, in this way, nation has been taken out of the discussion. Second, a parallel problem is found in the literature on national identity and nationalism, where nation is most often defined in socio-cultural terms with little consideration of how economic practice might symbolise nation. This oversight, it is argued, ultimately impoverishes theory of both national identity and economic nationalism. Finally, an attempt is made to bring an expanded definition of national identity, one that encompasses representations of economic life as well as socio-cultural memories, back into debates of economic nationalism.

PERFORMATIVE STATES Cynthia Weber.

Weber's analysis of an advertisement featuring the cross-dressed American cultural icon RuPaul introduces perfomativity into international relations discussions in a way that emphasises sex, gender, and sexuality. She builds upon the now familiar argument that sovereign nation-statesClike all subjectsCare best understood performativity, as subjects in process that are the ontological effects of practices which are performatively enacted. Reclaiming the intellectual context in which Judith Butler introduced the notion of performativity. Weber returns to Butler's work as a way of reconsidering the sovereign nation-state not only as a performative body, but also as a sex and gendered body.

HUMAN RIGHTS AS SUBJECTIVITY: THE AGE OF RIGHTS AND THE POLITICS OF CULTURE Simon Chesterman.

This article seeks to open up the question of the foundation of human rights by reference not to their philosophical origins but their political function. It argues that attempts to ground human rights in objective fact (such as 'human nature') or in pure reason (as 'self-evident') are futile, but more importantly are unhelpful in the broader project of protecting those rights that are recognised as 'universal'. A more useful approach is to conceptualise human rights as a discourse in which the human being is constituted and reconstituted as the subject of rights. Allied with this theoretical analysis is the political project of establishing the conditions for meaningful conversation about human rights. More than any philosophical insight, this is the ultimate precondition for their recognition.

SUSTAINING THE UNITED NATIONS? Mark Imber.

The United Nations is faced with fundamental challenges to its post-Cold War revival. The combined effects of globalisation, continuing financial difficulties, and a stalled programme of reform have inhibited the UN from acquiring greater competence and legitimacy. In its attempts to defend the global poor and to promote sustainable development, the UN as a welfare-net is subject to the same limitations as the decline of domestic welfare-state in the 1990's. The state of scholarship on the UN reflects these frustrations. Although evidence of a continuing commitment to multi-lateralism can be found in certain issue-areas, the prospects for cosmopolitan-democratic renewal are bleak.

ETHNIC WARS AND INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION Dominique Jacquin-Berdal.

The view that ethnic conflicts stem from irrational age-old hatreds has often been invoked to justify policies of non-intervention or, at most, limited involvement on the part of the international community. This article reviews three recently published works that challenge this assumption and its policy implications. After showing why the concept of ethnicity cannot meaningfully be treated as an independent or self-sufficient explanatory variable in the study of contemporary intra-state conflict, the article assesses various options for ethnic conflict regulation.

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