Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 207–240 | Cite as

The politics of the human

Anne Phillips,The Politics of the Human. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Laura Brace
  • Moya LloydEmail author
  • Andrew Reid
  • Kelly Staples
  • Véronique Pin-Fat
  • Anne Phillips
Critical Exchange

This Critical Exchange was written as part of an on-going discussion of the significance of ‘the human’ in contemporary political and ethical theorising. The idea for it stems from a panel (‘The human and its others’) organised for the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in 2015 where we explored the complexity of the human as a category through thinking about the contexts in which it is invoked, such as war, violence, slavery and political struggle. This revealed the fraught connections between freedom and protection, the complex violence of liberation and the risks and dangers associated with becoming other than human. Anne Phillips’ book The Politics of the Human, based on her Seeley lectures, came out at about the same time and confirmed our judgment that ‘the human’ is an intensely political matter, and one that forces us to think again about embodiment, difference and each other.

In putting together this Critical Exchange, we have engaged closely with the themes...


  1. Andrews, K. T., & Biggs, M. (2006) The dynamics of protest diffusion: Movements organizations, social networks, and news media in the 1960 sit-ins. American Sociological Review 71(5): 752–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arendt, Hannah. (1973) The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jonvanovich.Google Scholar
  3. Azar, L. F. (2016) Book review: The politics of the human. Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy 45(1): 75–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Black Lives Matter. (2016) (last accessed 23 May 2016).
  5. Callahan, J. (2001) Introduction. In: Ellison (2001 [1952]).Google Scholar
  6. Cavell, S. (1986) The Uncanniness of the Ordinary. Paper presented at the The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Delivered at Stanford University.Google Scholar
  7. Cavell, S. (1990) Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome: The Constitution of Emersonian Perfectionism. La Salle, Ill.; Chicago: Open Court; University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cavell, S. (1999) The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy (With new preface) (ed.). New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cavell, S. (2002) ‘The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear’ in Must We Mean What We Say?, (ed.), Stanley Cavell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 267–353.Google Scholar
  10. Cavell, S. (2003) Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare (Updated ed.). Cambridge, U.K. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cavell, S. (2004) Cities of Words: Pedagogical Letters on a Register of the Moral Life. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Cavell, S. (2005) Philosophy the Day after Tomorrow. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Chafe, W. (1981) Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cochran, M. (1999) Normative Theory in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Das, V. (2007) Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  16. Deranty, J.-P. (ed.) (2010). Jacques Rancière: Key Concepts. Durham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  17. Dillon, M. (2014) What makes the world dangerous? In J. Edkins & M. Zehfuss (Eds.), Global Politics: A New Introduction (2nd ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Ellison, R. (2001 [1952]) Invisible Man. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  19. Fairclough, N. (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Fanon, F. (1986 [1952]) Black Skins, White Masks. Transl. C. L. Markmann. London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  21. Fricker, M. (2007) Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gallie, W.B. (1955–1956) ‘Essentially Contested Concepts’. Proceedings of the Aristotelean Society, Vol. 56, pp. 167–198.Google Scholar
  23. Getachew, A. (2016) Universalism after the post-colonial turn: Interpreting the Haitian revolution. Political Theory 44(6): 821–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hallward, P. (2009) Staging equality: Rancière’s theatrocracy and the limits of anarchic equality. In G. Rockhill & P. Watts (Eds.), Jacques Rancière: History, Politics, Aesthetics. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hammer, E. (2002) Stanley Cavell: Skepticism, Subjectivity, and the Ordinary. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  26. Harper, D. Online Etymology Dictionary, (last accessed 24 April 2017).
  27. Kowal, R. (2004) Staging the greensboro sit-ins. TDR/The Drama Review 48(4): 135–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. May, T. (2010) Wrong, disagreement, subjectification. In: Deranty (ed.) (2010).Google Scholar
  29. Morris, A. (1981) Black Southern student sit-in movement: An analysis of internal organization. American Sociological Review 46(6): 744–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nussbaum, M. C. (2000) In defence of universal values in nussbaum women and human development: The capabilities approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Panagia, D. (2010) ‘Partage du Sensible’: The Distribution of the Sensible. In: Deranty (ed.) (2010).Google Scholar
  32. Phillips, A. (2015) The Politics of the Human. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pin-Fat, V. (2010) Universality, Ethics and International Relations: A Grammatical Reading. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Pin-Fat, V. (2013) Cosmopolitanism and the end of humanity: A grammatical reading of posthumanism. International Political Sociology, 7(3): 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pin-Fat, V. (2015) ‘Cosmopolitanism without Foundations’ in Politics and Cosmopolitanism in a Global Age (eds.), Sonika Gupta & Sudarsan Padmanabhan. New Delhi and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Pin-Fat, V. (2016) ‘Seeing Humanity Anew: Grammatically Reading Liberal Cosmopolitanism’ in Re-Grounding Cosmopolitanism: Towards a Post-Foundational Cosmopolitanism, (eds.), Tamara Caraus & Elena Paris. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Polletta, F. (1998) ‘It was like a fever…’: Narrative and identity in social protest. Social Problems 45(2): 137–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rancière, J. (1991) The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. Transl. with an Introduction by K. Ross. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Rancière, J. (1999) Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  40. Rancière, J. (2004a) Introducing disagreement. Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities 9(3): 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rancière, J. (2004b) Who is the subject of the rights of man? The South Atlantic Quarterly 103(2): 297–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rawls, J. (1999) A Theory of Justice, revised edition. Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Rawls, J. (2001) Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Rorty, R. (1998) Human rights, rationality, and sentimentality. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers (Vol. 3, pp. 167–185). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Simpson, D. P. (1959) Cassell’s Latin-English, English-Latin Dictionary. London: Cassell Publishers Limited.Google Scholar
  46. Smith, C. (2016) Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ as a Parable of Our Time. The New Yorker. December 4. (last accessed 24 February 2017).
  47. SNCC Digital Gateway (n.d.) Sit-Ins Greensboro. accessed 18 February 2017).
  48. Sparks, H. (2016) Quarreling with Rancière: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Democratic Disruption. Philosophy and Rhetoric 49(4): 420–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Staples, K. (2012a) Statelessness, sentimentality and human rights. Philosophy & Social Criticism 37(9): 1011–1024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Staples, K. (2012b) Retheorising Statelessness: Towards a background theory of membership in world politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Staples, K. (2012c) Statelessness and the politics of misrecognition. Res Publica 18(1): 93–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Storm-Heter, T. (2006) Sartre’s Ethics of Engagement. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.Google Scholar
  53. Tanke, J. (2011) Jacques Rancière: An Introduction. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  54. UNHCR .(1977) Note on Determination of Refugee Status under International Instruments EC/SCP/5, (last accessed 24 April 2017).
  55. Waldron, J. (2012) The Harm in Hate Speech. London: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yancy, G. & Butler, J. (2015, January 12) What’s Wrong with ‘All Lives Matter’? The New York Times.

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Brace
    • 1
  • Moya Lloyd
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrew Reid
    • 1
  • Kelly Staples
    • 1
  • Véronique Pin-Fat
    • 3
  • Anne Phillips
    • 4
  1. 1.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.Loughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  3. 3.University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  4. 4.London School of EconomicsLondonUK

Personalised recommendations