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David Lempert

Barack Obama was the first son of a PhD anthropologist to serve as President of the United States, and some popular press linked his political views and actions, which were allegedly in violation of international law, to failures in American anthropology to uphold international law as well as to personal failures by anthropologists to transmit the professional ethics of the discipline to their offspring. This essay examines those critiques and identifies deficiencies in anthropological presentations of ‘multiculturalism’ and in anthropology’s adherence to international law. It also reviews the cultural self-identification of President Obama, drawing attention to the sub-cultures of ‘expat’ communities like those in which President Obama was raised and in which many practising anthropologists and their children live.

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Another Roadside Attraction?

Preserving the Cultural Heritage of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Janice Harper

Nuclear tourism is rapidly becoming a popular industry that attracts a diverse international audience with interests in history, militarism, and anti-war activism. In some sites, nuclear tourism emphasizes the devastation of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while, at others, it draws on the past to present a future of environmental stewardship, technological achievement and scientific mastery of the earth's energy. In so doing, nuclear tourism becomes a well crafted strategy to stimulate sentiments of nationalism and civic pride, while authenticating a particular perspective of history, science and identity. This article discusses efforts to use cultural heritage of the Manhattan Project both as a marketing strategy to bring tourist dollars to the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and as a way to celebrate the community's past as a 'Secret City' and its central role in the development of the atomic bomb. This construction of cultural heritage, however, may disregard cultural rights in respect to environmental justice, health and human rights, and serve to authenticate the history of the atomic bomb as having a single moral imperative, divorced from the international arena in which nuclear science is currently being developed and debated.

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Critical Engagements of NGOs for Global Human Rights Protection

A New Epoch of Cosmopolitanism for Larger Freedom?

On-Kwok Lai

Since the mid-1990s, the international norms for global development have been redefined under non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) critical e-mobilizations, powered by new media. International governmental organizations (IGOs) have been forced to make policy adjustments or concessions, resulting in new IGOs-NGOs policy regimes for consultative consensus building and for protecting people’s economic, social, and cultural rights (ESC) for enhancing social quality. This paper examines the emerging cosmopolitanism in the information age, focusing on NGOs’ advocacy networks, to understand the new media-enhanced participatory regime for global governance. It also illustrates a new form of social participation, as promoted by social quality theory, in the age of e-globalization and the information society. The paper has five parts. After outlining the globalization project threatening ESC rights, the second section examines critical engagements of NGOs and IGOs for human rights promotion. Parts three and four discuss, respectively, the struggles for ESC rights in shaping new ethics and norms for global development, and the variations of new social media mobilization. The paper ends with critical remarks on the project for larger freedom and human rights for all.

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Contested Representations

Exploring China’s State Report

Halme-Tuomisaari and Miia

As states become parties to international human rights treaties, they undertake the obligation to provide periodic state reports to UN human rights treaty bodies. Officially, state reports are paramount vehicles of factual information of a given state’s human rights situation. Unofficially their status may be contested and their data reduced to state propaganda. This article examines this transformation through the submission of China’s first state report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The article shows how human rights documents of diverse genres join together in a continual ceremony of dialogue. It connects minute details of treaty body proceedings to more general developments in the international human rights field, and argues that beneath the veneer of diplomatic conduct accompanying human rights dialogue lays an intense struggle for representation and legitimacy. It further discusses how this struggle reflects the recent rise of Kantian theories of international law. These theories seek to re-evaluate the foundational concept of international law, namely ‘sovereign equality’, and, thus continue the mission civilisatrice that has characterized elements of international collaboration for centuries.