Reading Rancière’s Humanitarianism vis-à-vis Politics and the Police
In this paper I rely on Jacques Rancière, Walter Benjamin, and the critical literature on humanitarianism to theorize the intimate intertwinement between humanitarianism, politics, and the police. I complement a dynamic literature on the political theory of Rancière by examining the logic of humanitarianism and the way in which it operates along violence to reassert “natural” perceptions of national community. I illustrate my claims by focusing theoretically and practically on the way in which benevolent extensions of membership by the US immigration regime interact with the violent background of immigration enforcement. In particular, I argue that humanitarian moves (which have characterized the response of the left to the question of migration and refugees) prevent the politicization of migration and ultimately support the overall violence of immigration enforcement, rather than constituting moments of dissensus that could disrupt extant understandings of membership.