Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire

Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire

by Neve Gordon, Nicola Perugini

Hardcover(First Edition)

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A chilling global history of the human shield phenomenon.

From Syrian civilians locked in iron cages to veterans joining peaceful indigenous water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, from Sri Lanka to Iraq and from Yemen to the United States, human beings have been used as shields for protection, coercion, or deterrence. Over the past decade, human shields have also appeared with increasing frequency in antinuclear struggles, civil and environmental protests, and even computer games. The phenomenon, however, is by no means a new one.
Describing the use of human shields in key historical and contemporary moments across the globe, Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini demonstrate how the increasing weaponization of human beings has made the position of civilians trapped in theaters of violence more precarious and their lives more expendable. They show how the law facilitates the use of lethal violence against vulnerable people while portraying it as humane, but they also reveal how people can and do use their own vulnerability to resist violence and denounce forms of dehumanization. Ultimately, Human Shields unsettles our common ethical assumptions about violence and the law and urges us to imagine entirely new forms of humane politics.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520301849
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 08/25/2020
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 779,512
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Neve Gordon is Professor of Human Rights and the Politics of Humanitarian Law at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of Israel’s Occupation and coauthor of The Human Right to Dominate.
Nicola Perugini is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. He is the coauthor of The Human Right to Dominate.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 • Civil War 
Humane Warfare in the United States

2 • Irregulars
The Franco-German War and the Legal Use of Human Shields

3 • Settlers
The Second Boer War and the Limits of Liberal Humanitarianism

4 • Reports
World War I and the German use of Human Screens

5 • Peace Army
International Pacifism and Voluntary Shielding during the Sino-Japanese War

6 • Emblem
The Italo-Ethiopian War and Red Cross Medical Facilities

7 • Nuremberg
Nazi Human Shielding and the Lack of Civilian Protections

8 • Codification
The Geneva Conventions and the Passive Civilian

9 • People’s War
Casting Vietnamese Resistance as Human Shielding

10 • Environment
Green Human Shielding

11 • Resistance 
Antimilitary Activism in Iraq and Palestine

12 • Humanitarian Crimes
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

13 • Manuals 
Military Handbooks as Lawmaking Tools

14 • Scale 
Human Shielding in Sri Lanka and the Principle of Proportionality

15 • Hospitals
The Use of Medical Facilities as Shields

16 • Proximity
Civilians Trapped in the Midst of the War on ISIS

17 • Info-War
The Gaza Wars and Social Media

18 • Posthuman Shielding
Drone Warfare and New Surveillance Technologies

19 • Women and Children
Gender, Passivity, and Human Shields

20 • Spectacle 
Viral Images That Dehumanize or Humanize Shields

21 • Computer Games
Human Shields in Virtual Wars

22 • Protest
Civil Disobedience as an Act of War


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