Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 14, Number 1, Spring 2023 

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Force-Feeding and “The Right to Maim”: Hunger Strikes at Guantánamo Bay
Nicole Georges

This article explores how “involuntary enteral feeding” at the Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) allows for the United States to thwart the hunger striking protests of detainees resisting grave mistreatment and unlawful incarceration. Involuntary enteral feeding, also referred to as force-feeding in this article, is presented in the JTF-GTMO’s standard operating procedure as a necessary medical intervention used to rescue the frail hunger striker, but in fact uses excessive violence and causes further injury to the ailing detainee. This purportedly lifesaving protocol enables the US to interrupt hunger strikers’ protests and ironically underscores the very conditions inspiring detainee striking efforts.


The “Unwilling or Unable” Doctrine and the Political Economy of the War on Terror
Ntina Tzouvala

The 'unwilling or unable' doctrine is amongst the most contested in contemporary international law. However, this paper is not concerned with whether ‘unwilling or unable’ accurately reflects the international law of self-defense and force. Rather, drawing from critical security studies, especially those strands that study the relationship between the war on terror, and capitalist accumulation, and critical political economy this paper examines the forms of political economy and statehood implicit in the doctrine. The article argues two things: first, the doctrine envisages a gradated form of sovereignty dedicated to the reproduction of racial capitalism. Secondly, the doctrine incorporates the imperatives of financial capitalism insofar that it seeks to guarantee ongoing demand for military services and equipment into the future.


Global History and Decolonization: A Moment of Possibility , A Call for Integration

Global History and Decolonization: A Moment of Possibility, a Call for Integration
Zaib un Nisa Aziz, Charlotte Kiechel

This introduction surveys recent scholarship that examines decolonization in a global frame. While doing so, it contends that a paradox defines the current state of the field. Many historians have broached the topic of decolonization and highlighted its salience in world history. Yet, the history of decolonization has been an undertheorized topic of study in the field of global history. Few scholars have articulated the potential contribution of global history with respect to historicizing the global ends of empire. This introduction amends this historiographical oversight. It insists that global history holds a clear advantage for examining the structural and normative changes which the process of decolonization encompasses. This special issue claims this advantage by returning to two of global history’s long-standing commitments: its embrace of methodological pluralism and focus on analytical integration. This introduction argues that historians will benefit from deploying an integrated global historical approach when evaluating decolonization in a global frame. It then explores how the subsequent six articles demonstrate this approach’s analytical advantages.


Sovereignty Beyond Decolonization: Post-Imperial British Policing and Colombian Criminal Justice, c. 1960–1975
Robert A. Karl

This article examines the trajectories of British intelligence officer Eric T.D. Lambert and an incarcerated Afro-Colombian named Germán Angulo, whose intersecting stories reveal the post-imperial displacement of expertise in the 1960s, as well as the features of societies that imperial expertise misses: social/racial hierarchies and the nature of the politics that sustain them. The tension between British post-imperialism liberalism and Colombian ideologies of “racial democracy,” on the one hand, and the lived reality of race in carceral institutions on the other, demonstrates how decolonization’s redefinition of sovereignty, law, and belonging configured a global moment that reached even long-independent nation-states.


Decolonizing the Sky: Global Air Travel at the End of Empire
Jessica Lynne Pearson

Drawing on a range of case studies from the French and British empires, this article argues that the expansion of global air travel in the second half of the twentieth century was intimately bound up with the decolonization process. These intersections crystallized mid-century as an increasingly diverse group of travelers took to the skies, forcing colonial authorities to reckon with ongoing segregation on the ground. After independence, air travel and tourism offered new states an opportunity to craft national identities and forge transnational solidarities. In certain instances, however, efforts to expand these industries reinforced economic dependence on their former colonizers. Racism, too, continued to shape the experiences of tourists from recently sovereign nations as they made their way through the world using transportation networks that remained deeply embedded in imperial structures.


The Limits of Pharmaceutical Internationalism: Mexico, the Third World, and the Resource of Medicinal Plants in the 1970s
Joshua Mentanko

In the 1970s, research into traditional medicine helped suture solidarity between Mexico and the Third World. The Mexican national agency for traditional medicine research convened a meeting of researchers in the same field from Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as the World Health Organization and Organization of African Unity in 1977 in Mexico City. Transcripts from their discussions demonstrate how parallel conversations about decolonizing global health and the global economy converged around revalorizing medicinal plants as the basis for sovereignty and development. The article also excavates tensions within this common front around negotiating internal gender and cultural differences.


Learning from Dar es Salaam: Harvard’s “Project Tanganyika” and a Nodal Perspective on Decolonization’s Itineraries
Andrew Ivaska

This article traces the history of Harvard’s “Project Tanganyika” and its encounter with Dar es Salaam’s burgeoning community of Southern African political exiles. An unsung predecessor to Kennedy’s Peace Corps, Project Tanganyika began in 1961 amidst a Harvard campus reckoning with issues of race, civil rights and global decolonization. Sending groups of mostly white undergraduates to Dar es Salaam as volunteer teachers, the Project would become uncannily central to the city’s emerging fame as a haven for leftwing exiles and fellow-travelers. For many Project volunteers and liberation movement leaders, the initiative was mutually generative, even as it resonated in more ambivalent ways for rank-and-file cadres. In both its generative capacity and its limitations, Project Tanganyika’s trajectory provides a glimpse of the junction of African decolonization and US civil rights in a manner inflected by race, class, and mobility.


The Jurisprudence of Decolonization: The Postcolonial Career of D. N. Pritt and the Labor of Insurgent Lawyering
Rohit De

Following the postcolonial career of the British lawyer, Denis Nowell Pritt across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, this article excavates the largely unheralded ways insurgent lawyers representing anti-colonial and opposition movements across the decolonizing British Empire developed a toolbox of shared legal strategies, techniques and precedents to resist and transform colonial legal inheritances. Shifting from histories of international treaties and national legislation to the labor and practice of lawyering makes visible a transnational jurisprudence of decolonization s produced before local courts in Guyana, India, Kenya and Singapore and sustained by local communities and lawyers.


Human Rights, Revolutionary Humanitarianism, and African Liberation in 1970: Unsettling Discontinuities in Human Rights History
Meredith Terretta

This is the story of the Comité International de la Défense d’Ernest Ouandié (CIDEO), established in Paris 1970 to prevent the execution of Ernest Ouandié, commander of the underground liberation army in Cameroon. Comprised of lawyers, intellectuals, and clergy, the committee framed its defense of the African revolutionary in human rights terms, portraying the Cameroonian legal system as non-compliant with its constitutional commitment to human rights, and appealing globally for clemency once he was sentenced to death. CIDEO’s human rights strategy shows the shifting relationship between violence and human rights in the era of decolonization, making visible the historical, political, and geographical contingencies within which human rights were revolutionary. This analysis of the committee’s advocacy reveals that present-day definitional criteria of human rights have too often shaped the way their history is reconstructed.