Thursday, January 1, 2009

Weitz: From the Vienna to the Paris System

Eric D. Weitz (Univ. of Minnesota - History) has published From the Vienna to the Paris System: International Politics and the Entangled Histories of Human Rights, Forced Deportations, and Civilizing Missions (American Historical Review, Vol. 113, no. 5, p. 1313, December 2008). Here's the abstract:
Weitz argues for a fundamental shift in political conceptions in the last third of the nineteenth century: from traditional diplomacy to population politics, from mere territorial adjustments to the handling of entire population groups defined in terms of ethnicity, nationality, or race (or some combination thereof)—in short, from the Vienna to the Paris system. He examines two transnational regions, the borderlands of Eastern Europe and Africa, as the main sites of this transition. The history he recounts shows that the origins of new standards of human rights were more problematic than we normally assume, for thinking about populations in terms of protecting threatened groups and their rights also entailed the very same kinds of thinking that enabled and indeed promoted forced deportations. He concludes that while post–World War II human rights have largely been individualistic in orientation, the widely touted notion of self-determination, based on the concept of population homogeneity, points to the aftereffects of the Paris system continuing into the twenty-first century.