Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 13, Number 1, Spring 2022 

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Doc Savage Saves the World: A Pop Culture Origin Story for US Modernization and Development, 1933–1949
Megan Black

This article contends that important scripts for US-led modernization were trademarked not by political and academic elites of the Cold War era, but rather by low-brow cultural producers of the New Deal period. It pinpoints key characterizations, motivations, plotlines, and settings associated with international development in the long-running pulp magazine series starring “Doc Savage” (1933–1949). Through historical analysis and close readings, the article offers a fresh account of how US audiences came to imagine technical assistance as a proper course for American power while also revealing paradoxes underpinning the modernization agenda's overt commitments to race neutrality and self-determination.


Drug Prohibition and the Policing of Warfare: The War on Drugs, Globalization, and the Moralization of Perpetual Violence
Kojo Koram

This article examines the shifting dynamics between policing and warfare as reflected in the War on Drugs over the twentieth century. Despite the UN’s international drug control treaties being written in language of humanitarianism, the drug prohibition that emerged from these laws exemplifies the growth of “New War.” The drug war, with its violent methods of armed combat, lethal force, incarceration, asset seizure, and land dispossession, was a continuation of familiar warfare. But it also marks a shift away from the traditional structure of war, providing a key, often overlooked early example of how contemporary warfare blurs the lines between surveillance, policing, and military action. Through an analysis of prohibition, this article points to a broader trend of war mutating from conflicts between rival sovereign states to the collective assault upon a threat or poison within the universal.


Agents of Sacrifice: Victims and Human Rights in North India
Whitney Russell

This article identifies a kind of victim-subject in North India that defies what is known about victimhood. On one hand, human rights literature offers a victim who negotiates narratives into a coherent biography of victimization. On the other, are helpless victims who cannot do the same. “Rita,” however, lies outside both understandings. The role of kinship and family, combined with her community’s status as both tribe and caste, create a context in which Rita’s decision to engage in sex work becomes an act of gendered sacrifice that produces an entirely new human rights subject.


Dossier: New Histories of the Global South and the UN

Introduction: Shaping a Global Horizon, New Histories of the Global South and the UN
Alanna O’Malley, Vineet Thakur

This introduction lays out the agenda for this special issue. We argue for more inclusive histories of the UN system which incorporate the role of the Global South in shaping its past and present. In general, we ask: how have the Global South actors and coalitions/formations critiqued, interrogated, nuanced, and advanced the principles and practice of liberal world order? In order to set up the conceptual context for the essays in the collection, we argue that the “Global South” is neither a place nor a project. Instead, our methodological engagements with this idea ought to configure it as an assemblage of multifarious actors, motives, methods, and means.


A New Agenda for the Global South: West Papua, the United Nations, and the Politics of Decolonization
Emma Kluge

This article examines the West Papuan campaign for independence in the lead up to the agreement signed between Indonesia and the Netherlands in 1962, leading to the recolonization of West Papua. West Papuan leaders argued for decolonization separate from Indonesia, based on their interpretations of United Nations principles and claims to a distinct ethnic identity. However, West Papuan claims were rejected because their understanding of self-determination clashed with international norms as well as Cold War and Afro-Asian political imperatives. This case study reveals the tension between recognizing the self-determination of peoples and the state-building imperatives of the UN.


Fighting an Illiberal World Order: The Latin American Road to UNCTAD, 1948–1964
Stella Krepp

Even though Latin American diplomats and economists played a crucial role in the formulation and the theorising of development economics, Latin American contributions to development debates in the United Nations have often been relegated to the margins. Based on sources from Brazilian and Cuban archives, the Organization of American States, as well as the UN archive, the paper relates the Latin American road to the creation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, in a struggle to fight what they perceived as an illiberal and unfair global economic order.


“Colonialism on trial”: International and Transnational Organizations and the “Global South” Challenges to the Portuguese Empire (1949–1962)
Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, José Pedro Monteiro

The United Nations was a dynamic “force field” for international and transnational cooperation and a forum for consequential, transformative interactions between the “West” and the “Global South.” This article focuses on the role played by alliances and solidarity networks, formed by a plurality of actors with diverse agendas, that systematically questioned the Portuguese empire-state’s legitimacy and mobilized the languages of self-determination, human rights, and non-discrimination. As the article concludes, these historical dynamics concurred for important legal and political changes within the Portuguese imperial formation but also shaped the procedures, norms, and languages employed within the UN system to address distinct imperial and colonial situations.