New Book: Humanity. A History of European Concepts in Practice From the Sixteenth Century to the Present

This edited volume investigates the development of the concepts and practices of “humanity” from the sixteenth century to the present. By choosing a longue-durée approach the book analyzes how shifting concepts of humanity shaped various practices and at the same time how ideas themselves were informed by these practices in the course of four hundred years. As humanity is evoked in a remarkable array of themes, the contributors deliberately focus on issues such as humanism, colonial expansion and imperialism, missions, abolitionism, international humanitarian law, humanitarianism, human rights, charity and philanthropy. In their understanding, these are crucial arenas, in which concepts and practices of humanity were sustainably shaped, defined, questioned and reconfigured. While there are a huge number of individual studies on each theme, the book seeks to connect these various fields and analyze their entanglements under the overarching theme of the idea of humanity.

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Accordingly, the volume regards the notion of humanity not as static and related only to one specific century, but as a dynamic concept, which emerged in the course of several centuries. One of the central aims is to show its procedural and evolutionary character with all its ambiguities and inconsistencies in the context of Europe itself as well as the continent’s relation to the wider world. Beyond Europe, the volume covers another three different geographical regions – namely Africa, America, and Asia, thus seeking to combine methodologically European history with approaches of transnational and global history.

Being aware of the multidimensional character of the topic and underlining the enrichment of research from different perspectives, the book adopts an interdisciplinary approach. Beyond doubt in the debates around the idea of humanity, religion played a remarkable role. Jewish, Catholic as well as Protestant teaching shaped the notion in many significant ways. It served for various actors such as philosophers, reformists, missionaries, abolitionists, and legal scholars frequently as a fundamental source for inspiring their theories and influencing their action. For this reason, theologians and historians in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Switzerland provide, for the first time together, innovative perspectives on the European concepts of humanity in practice. Thus, the book promotes an integrative approach to the theme by combining not only different geographical regions but also various historical epochs and academic disciplines in a single volume.

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Book Review on “Abolitionizing Missouri”

Cross-posted from: H-TGS

Sarah Panter, Review of: Kristen Layne Anderson. Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016. 272 pp. $48.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8071-6196-8.

Reviewed by Sarah Panter (Leibniz Institute of European History)
Published on H-TGS (September, 2016)
Commissioned by Alison C. Efford

Until a decade ago, it seemed that almost everything had been said about the experiences of nineteenth-century German immigrants in the United States. In recent years, however, historians have provided fresh perspectives on broader aspects of the social, political, and cultural history of the German-speaking diaspora in the United States. This is especially true of the second half of the nineteenth century and becomes visible, for example, in the claims for a “transnational turn in Civil War history.”[1] As a result, younger scholars have adapted new methodological approaches and started to open up the international potential of this research field by emphasizing the need to contextualize the attitudes of German-speaking immigrants and how they negotiated social, cultural, and racial differences in an entangled transatlantic space.[2]

In this larger context, Kristen Layne Anderson provides a valuable and well-written study. Anderson aims to question the image of German immigrants as idealistic fighters for humanity and as indisputably radical abolitionists in the border state of Missouri, particularly in St. Louis. In so doing, the author shows convincingly that “the racial ideology of the majority of German Americans in St. Louis was quite pragmatic, in that they shifted their position on slavery and the place of African Americans in American society when it benefited their own community to do so” (p. 3). Correspondingly, German Missourians took different stands on questions of race, gender, class, and religion between 1848 and 1870. The study’s arguments are supported by drawing on a broad range of sources, including the German- and English-language press representing different political orientations, statistical material from census documents, and personal and family papers. The six chapters are arranged chronologically and mainly follow political events and dynamics with regard to the questions of slavery and racial equality.

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51. Historikertag, Panel “Matters of Law or Religion? Human Rights, Ideology, and Religion in the Divided Germany and Europe after 1945”

Panel: “Matters of Law or Religion? Human Rights, Ideology, and Religion in the Divided Germany and Europe after 1945”

Organized by Dr. Sebastian Gehrig and Dr. Ned Richardson-Little

Human rights and international law garnered increasing popularity since the end of the Second World War. Since the end of the Cold War, the language of human rights has reached unprecedented social and political legitimacy. At the same time, however, the religious, legal, and ideological origins of competing ideas of human rights fell into oblivion. The secular and legal language of today’s human rights debates has helped obscuring their conflict-ridden history. Recent scholarship has thus emphasised the role of ideological conflicts, church and religious activism, and social movements in the emergence of human rights as a political language and part of international law. How did socialist human rights concepts develop alongside and in conflict with liberal-democratic ideas? What was the role of the churches, religious groups and activists in the negotiation of human rights language? How were human rights politically employed and by whom? Was the so-called human rights revolution of the 1970s much more triggered by Third World liberation ideology and decolonisation movements than Western governments? And finally: Did religious and ideological beliefs structure the evolution of human rights language and international law much more than legal thought? This section explores human rights concepts, their political language, and religious and ideological roots as an integral part of the Cold War in Germany and beyond.

 Presentations:

PD Dr. Katharina Kunter (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

Säkularisierungskitt und Antikriegswaffe? Christentum und Menschenrechte nach 1945

Dr. Ned Richardson-Little (University of Exeter)

Das Scheitern der Sozialistischen Menschenrechte

Dr. Sebastian Gehrig (University of Oxford)

Der Kampf um das menschenfreundlichere System: Menschenrechte, das geteilte Deutschland und die Vereinten Nationen nach 1945

Dr. Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institut für Europäische Geschichte Mainz)

Zur Idee der Humanitären Intervention im Zeichen des Kalten Krieges, 1945-1989

Commentary:

PD Dr. Annette Weinke (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)

Call for Applications: Global Humanitarianism Research Academy 2017

Drs Fabian Klose, Johannes Paulmann, and Andrew Thompson are pleased to announce that the Call for Applications for the third Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2017 is now open, with a deadline of 31 December 2016.

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Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy

International Research Academy on the History of Global Humanitarianism

Academy Leaders:   

Fabian Klose, Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz

Johannes Paulmann, Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz

Andrew Thompson, University of Exeter

in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva)

and with support by the German Historical Institute London

Venues:                     

Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz &

Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross Geneva

Dates:                         10-21 July 2017

Deadline:                    31 December 2016

Information at:          http://ghra.ieg-mainz.de/

ExeterIEGICRCghil

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Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid in the Twentieth Century

Review of Johannes Paulmann (ed.) Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid in the Twentieth Century. London: Oxford University Press, 2016. 460 pp. £75 (hardback), ISBN: 9780198778974

Ben Holmes History Department, University of Exeter

 Cross-posted from imperialglobalexeter.com

Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid in the Twentieth Century (2016), edited by Johannes Paulmann (Director of the Leibniz Institute of European History and Professor of Modern History at the University of Mainz), exemplifies the burgeoning field of the history of humanitarianism. In providing historical context to a sector that is often stuck in the ‘perpetual present’, the volume shares a common purpose with a fast-growing body of literature.[1] Specifically, the volume examines 150 years of history to demonstrate that the technical and ethical crises central to modern humanitarianism – such as competition between aid organisations, the tendency of aid to ‘do more harm than good’, and the manipulation of aid by political actors – are not unique to the twenty first century. They have, in fact, ‘been inherent in humanitarian practice for more than a century’ [3].[2]

Paulmann

Examining humanitarianism from the late nineteenth century to the present places this volume in similar territory to Michael Barnett’s Empire of Humanity (2011). Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid is based on a conference that took place in the same year that Barnett’s work was published. Nevertheless, the edited volume has responded to some of the historiographical criticisms aimed at Empire of Humanity. Firstly, to counter Barnett’s western-centric focus, the volume incorporates ‘the point of view of Europe and the West and of the Colonies and the Third World’ [28].[3] Secondly, Paulmann seeks to challenge Barnett’s three chronological ‘Ages of Humanitarianism’ for being too rigid and for tending to ignore overlaps and ‘contingencies’ in the history of humanitarianism.[4]

Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid structures its chapters according to four chronological periods: ‘Multiple Foundations of International Humanitarianism’ contains chapters on humanitarian aid from the nineteenth century to 1919; ‘Humanitarianism in the Shadow of Colonialism and World Wars’ spans the interwar years up to the end of the Second World War; ‘Humanitarianism at the Intersection of Cold War and Decolonization’ covers the period 1945 to 1990; and, ‘Dilemmas of Global Humanitarianism’ examines topics relating to modern-day humanitarianism. The boundaries between these chronological periods are not fixed, with several chapters highlighting, for example, how ideas and practices spanned the interwar and Cold War years.

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Report Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2016

The 2nd Global Humanitarianism Research Academy at the Centre for Imperial and Global History, University of Exeter, and the Archives of International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva

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GHRA 2016 at Reed Hall, University of Exeter, 13 July 2016

The GHRA 2016, organized by FABIAN KLOSE (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz), JOHANNES PAULMANN (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz), and ANDREW THOMPSON (University of Exeter) in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross and with support by the German Historical Institute London, took place from July 11 to 22, 2016 at the University of Exeter and the Archives of International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The 2016 GHRA had eleven fellows (ten PhD candidates, one Postdoc) who were selected in a highly competitive application process. They came from Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They represented a range of disciplinary approaches from History, International History, Politics, International Relations, and Area Studies. The Research Academy was joined by STACEY HYND (University of Exeter) and KATHARINA STORNIG (Leibniz Institute of European History) as well as JEAN-LUC BLONDEL (formerly of the ICRC) and MARC-WILLIAM PALEN (University of Exeter).

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The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Impact of History

On Wednesday, 20th July, the fellows of the GHRA 2016 discussed topical issues as well as the role and impact of history with Charlotte Lindsey Curtet at the Humanitarium, the conference centre at the headquarters of the ICRC in Geneva. As Director of Communication and Information Management since 2010, Charlotte Lindsey is not only current in all present affairs but also responsible for the Archives of the ICRC.

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Charlotte Lindsey Curtet with the fellows of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy, Geneva 20 July 2016.

She herself has witnessed great changes since she joined the organisation in 1993 when she first went on missions to Bosnia and Ruanda. In 1999-2000 she conducted a major research on women and war resulting in the publication of Women Facing War (2001). The findings in some instances surprised her herself, she said. Looking at women not merely through the prism of sexual violence and as victims but as actors in their own right broadened the perspectives and made the ICRC more gender sensitive in terms of operational response as well as legal development. The “all victims approach” prevalent until then has since been abandoned in favour of a more nuanced notion without giving up the principle of impartiality. In more recent years, similar discussions are taking place in relation to the challenges of cultural and particularly religious differences. The aim always is to find communality in order to come to the aid of those who suffer across the divides of a conflict. Increasing Respect for International Humanitarian Law in non-International Armed Conflicts (2008) suggests in a chapter on “strategic argumentation” to appeal to core values as “the fundamental principles of humanitarian law are often mirrored in the values, ethics or morality of local cultures and traditions. Pointing out how certain rules or principles found in IHL also exist within the culture of a party to a conflict can help lead to increased compliance“ (p. 31).

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Guest Lectures of the GHRA 2016

The second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) has started with one week of academic training at the University of Exeter before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva. On this occasion the GHRA is very pleased to welcome Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel and Prof. Richard Overy as two distinguished guest lecturers on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

In the morning session Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel, the former Head of the ICRC Archives and former special advisor to the previous ICRC president, will speak on ICRC work and policies in 1966-1975.

In the afternoon session Prof. Richard Overy, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the British Academy as well as Professor of History at the University of Exeter, will give the guest lecture To Bomb or Not to Bomb: Morality, Expediency and Necessity in the British Wartime Experience.

We are all very much looking forward to these two presentations and the following discussion!

ExeterIEGICRCghil

 

 

Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights

On the occasion of the Second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA), which will start next Sunday at the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter, we are happy to announce that our common project of an “Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights” is now online.

The Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights is jointly published by the Leibniz Institute of European History and the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter as part of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA). It is hosted by the Leibniz Institute of European History.

 

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The Online Atlas provides readers with concise analytical information on key concepts, events, and people which shaped the development of modern humanitarianism and human rights. The entries of the Online Atlas are written by the successive generations of fellows of the GHRA and other experts connected to the Research Academy.

The entries describe particular historical moment as well as its consequences and wider meanings. Additional materials include a review of scholarly debates, further reading, and visual representations. The Online Atlas addresses a broader public. It is a valuable resource for those engaged in the field of humanitarian action and human rights as well as students and academics. It provides a reliable source of information and access to essential issues of the entangled world of humanitarianism across borders and historical epochs.

The projected started in December 2015 with some 10 entries and will grow the number of entries successively over the years. Ultimately the Online Atlas is planned to cover about 50 key locations in Africa, America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights is jointly published by the Leibniz Institute of European History and the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter as part of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA).

The Editors

Fabian Klose, Marc Palen, Johannes Paulmann, Andrew Thompson

Second GHRA, 10-22 July 2016

In ten days the second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) will meet for one week of academic training at the University of Exeter before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.

UnbenanntThe GHRA received again a huge amount of applications from an extremely talented group of scholars from more than sixteen different countries around the world. The selection committee considered each proposal very carefully and has selected these participants for the GHRA 2016:

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Book Review of Alexis Heraclides/Aada Dialla on “Humanitarian Intervention”

Cross-posted from:  hsozkult.de

Fabian Klose, Review of: Alexis Heraclides / Ada Dialla, Humanitarian intervention in the long nineteenth century. Setting the precedent, Series: Humanitarianism. Key debates and new approaches, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2015, 253 pp., ISBN 978 0 7190 8990 9, $ 110.

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The issue of humanitarian intervention – the use of force to prevent and to end gross violations of humanitarian norms – is usually associated with the last decade of the twentieth century and described as a recent phenomenon emerging mainly after the end of the Cold War. However, over the last few years an intriguing discussion about the historical origins and the emergence of the concept has evolved. Recent studies provide first significant steps towards a genuine history of humanitarian intervention and convincingly sketch the genealogy of the concept’s long history, reaching back to the 18th and 19th centuries. With very few exceptions, most of these books focus on the European interventions to protect Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire during the long 19th century and present these case studies as pivotal for the evolution of the concept [1]. In their new book “Humanitarian intervention in the long nineteenth century. Setting the precedent”, published in Manchester University Press’s new series on “Humanitarianism”, Alexis Heraclides, Professor of International Relations at the Panteion University in Athens, and Ada Dialla, Assistant Professor of European History at the Athens School of Fine Arts, largely follow this track. Their choice of case studies also include the already well-studied interventions of the Great Powers in the Greek war of independence (1821–32), in Lebanon and Syria (1860–61) as well as the so-called “Bulgarian atrocities” during the Balkan crisis of 1875–78. Only the very brief chapter on the US intervention in the Cuban war of independence in 1898 adds an additional case not related to the Ottoman Empire.

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JHIL Article: Human Rights for and against Empire

In March 2014 Oliver Dörr (Osnabrück), Marc Frey (Munich), and Jörn Axel Kämmerer (Hamburg) organized the Hamburg Symposium on Colonialism and International Law at the Bucerius Law School. Some of papers of the conference have now been published as articles in the new issue of the Journal of the history of International Law.

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My own article deals with the topic of  Human Rights for and against Empire – Legal and Public Discourses in the Age of Decolonisation (JHIL, Vol. 18, 2016, p. 317-338). Against the background of an ongoing debate about the role of human rights in the age of decolonization this essay approaches the issue from two different angles. It concentrates on the paradoxical situation that anti-colonial movements as well as colonial powers instrumentalized international human rights documents such as the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the European Conventions on Human Rights for achieving their political goals. In combining legal and public discourses in a significant way both sides accused each other of gross human rights violations while at the same time presenting themselves as respecting and even guaranteeing fundamental human rights. Especially during the course of the wars of decolonization after 1945 this phenomena became obvious in various diplomatic debates at the United Nations and made universal rights a diplomatic pawn in international debates.

For this recent issue of the JHIL see:

http://www.brill.com/journal-history-international-law-revue-dhistoire-du-droit-international

International Workshop “Jewish Diplomacy and Welfare”

Jewish Diplomacy and Welfare:

Intersections and Transformations in the Early Modern and Modern Period

April 10–12, 2016

Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG), Mainz,

and Museum Judengasse, Frankfurt a.M.

Shtadlanut (intercession) is generally perceived as a Jewish political practice, or as Jewish diplomacy. It was often closely connected with “righteous” and charitable activities (tzedakah) within the Jewish community. Both practices changed fundamentally during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Jews were offered emancipation and, as a result, faced issues of inclusion, acculturation, and assimilation. In this context, the shtadlanim (advocates) of the Jewish minority were confronted with the incomplete integration as well as increasing anti-Semitism, which appear to have reinforced the necessity of Jewish intercession and solidarity.

The workshop takes a new look at the concepts of shtadlanut and tzedakah, in order to identify how they are interrelated and how these interrelations have changed over time. Key questions of the workshop are: How did Jews represent and negotiate their interests and “otherness” in different societies? Why and how could they receive special status in cultural, economic, and legal systems from the early modern period up to the 20th century? How influential were the concept and practice of tzedakah in Jewish political traditions? How have intercession and welfare been adapted in the course of the modern era?

Convener

Dr. Mirjam Thulin

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Book Review of Heide Fehrenbach/Davide Rodogno, (eds.) “Humanitarian Photography”

Cross-posted from http://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-24908

Katharina Stornig, Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte, Mainz: Review of Fehrenbach, Heide; Rodogno, Davide (Hrsg.): Humanitarian Photography. A History. Cambridge 2015.

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Although the history of humanitarianism has recently attracted great attention from historians and social scientists, surprisingly little work has so far been done on its visual dimensions. Yet there can be no doubt that images, visual technologies, and media practices were fundamental to the emergence and formation of a global humanitarian enterprise since the nineteenth century. The volume “Humanitarian Photography,” edited by Heide Fehrenbach and Davide Rodogno, thus constitutes an important and most welcome contribution to a flourishing field of research. Focusing on the mobilization of photography by humanitarian activists and organizations in the twentieth century, the volume gives compelling insights into the transnational production, reproduction, use, and function of photographs in various contexts of humanitarian activism. Pointing to the key role that photography played in the development of humanitarianism, it introduces a range of people, groups and organizations that conceived of photographs as essential means in order to aid far-off people, to raise funds or to create awareness of human suffering. Fehrenbach and Rodogno insist on the need to study humanitarian photography in a historical perspective. Consequently, their volume, which follows an interdisciplinary approach and consists of both new texts and reprints of important articles in the field, presents a chronology, according to which humanitarian photography emerged out of transnational missionary activity, expanded within various international organizations and eventually developed into a professional field that was ethically framed and regulated in the 1980s.

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Conference Report “Humanity – A History of European Concepts in Practice” by Ceren Aygül

Report by Ceren Aygül, Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz

 

This interdisciplinary conference, organized by Fabian Klose (Mainz) and Mirjam Thulin (Mainz) on behalf of the members of IEG research group “Coping with Difference – Concepts of Humanity and Humanitarian Practices”, was held at the Leibniz Institute of European History (Mainz) from 8 to 10 October 2015. Prioritizing a comparative approach and focusing on the intersection of religious studies, international law and philosophy as well as on the history of humanitarianism and human rights, this conference set out to analyse the varieties and shifting meanings of the term “humanity” within the European context as well as in the context of Europe’s relations to other world regions. Keeping religious, colonial, social and gender aspects of the issue in mind, theologians and historians discussed the topic of “humanity” by focusing on such key issues as morality and human dignity, violence and international law, philanthropy, charity and solidarity.

2015-10-08 -10  Poster Humanity

The conference opened with a keynote lecture in which FRANCISCO BETHENCOURT (London) offered a historical review of principal aspects and categories of the division of humankind supposedly based on ethnicity, religion, gender, wealth and social status. He marked economic and political interests as the key motivations behind discriminatory actions and put an emphasis on ideological justifications of those distinctions. Questioning the universality of these divisions, he highlighted power relations as the basis of the categories and divisions, most of which displayed unstable patterns changed or recreated over time.

The first panel of the conference, dealing with morality and human dignity in early modern concepts, opened with MIHAI-D. GRIGORE’s (Mainz) presentation. Grigore concentrated on a transition in early modern political anthropology from humanitas Christiana, which viewed humanity as depending on an external or transcendental factor, i.e. God or the Church, to humanitas politica, which understood humanity as being inherent to every human being. Grigore traced this transition in the writings of Erasmus, which emphasises human nature as the property of individuals, not the Church, and a mutual goodwill intensified by education. MARIANO DELGADO (Fribourg) then presented his paper on the reflections of Spanish Catholic thinkers about the “nature” of American Indians in the 16th century. After outlining the dual genealogy of these thinkers’ ideas – the humanistic, enlightened thread stemming from the Stoa, considering the human race as one family, on the one side and Christian theology stressing man in the image of God on the other – Delgado presented two very different Christian thinkers, Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, showing how Sepúlveda justified European expansion in the Americas with the Indians’ supposed inferiority, and how Las Casas fought for the recognition of the Indians’ status as human beings. Delgado’s contribution was a reminder both of the variety of Christian thinking in the early modern period and of the strength of humanistic ideas even before the Enlightenment.

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