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The Origins of Global Humanitarianism
Religion, Empires, and Advocacy


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics

  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107521674

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About the Authors
  • Whether lauded and encouraged or criticized and maligned, action in solidarity with culturally and geographically distant strangers has been an integral part of European modernity. Traversing the complex political landscape of early modern European empires, this book locates the historical origins of modern global humanitarianism in the recurrent conflict over the ethical treatment of non-Europeans that pitted religious reformers against secular imperial networks. Since the sixteenth-century beginnings of European expansion overseas and in marked opposition to the exploitative logic of predatory imperialism, these reformers - members of Catholic orders and, later, Quakers and other reformist Protestants - developed an ideology and a political practice in defense of the rights and interests of distant 'others'. They also increasingly made the question of imperial injustice relevant to growing 'domestic' publics in Europe. A distinctive institutional model of long-distance advocacy crystallized out of these persistent struggles, becoming the standard weapon of transnational activists.

    • Offers a new understanding of the role in religion in social activism
    • Provides new perspectives in the study of global and transnational movements
    • Reveals the unknown origins of global humanitarianism and anti-imperialism
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    • Co-winner of the 2014 Best Scholarly Book Award, Section on Global and Transnational Sociology, American Sociological Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Peter Stamatov's careful analysis coupled with his theoretical acumen allows him to make an important historical claim: long-distance advocacy was not initially a secular institution, but rather emerged from religious activism among established clergy. However, he does not stop at that point. Stamatov argues that religious activism was highly correlated with the pattern of imperial advance. Thus, empire, religion, and long-distance advocacy develop in relation to each other - but not in any predetermined or uniform way. Rather, it is the interaction between the specific national context and the imperial context that generates the timing and character of the long-distance advocacy. This finding is important on a substantive as well as theoretical level. It will be a path-breaking contribution to the literature on globalization and transnational activism.' Mabel Berezin, Cornell University

    'This monumental book unearths a dazzling array of sources to found a new genealogy of global culture. Early-modern Catholic and Protestant churches in Europe sanctioned colonization abroad, but some Spanish and British activists also deployed religion to enlarge the rights of distant colonial subjects. Deciphering the causes of their growing long-distance aid to cultural strangers comprises a puzzle about our times that is every bit as striking as the rise of nationalism or of democratic insurgency. Peter Stamatov has posted a landmark in understanding Western engagement in the world to our day.' Richard Biernacki, University of California, San Diego

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107521674
    • length: 246 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Caribbean beginnings, 1511–20
    2. Pro-indigenist advocacy in the Iberian Atlantic
    3. Religious radicalization and early antislavery
    4. Quaker reformers and the politicization of antislavery
    5. Forging an abolitionist network
    6. The emergence of a new model

  • Author

    Peter Stamatov, Yale University, Connecticut
    Peter Stamatov is currently Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale University. His work has appeared in The American Sociological Review, Theory and Society and Contemporary Sociology, as well as in Hungarian and Brazilian scholarly journals. He is past winner of the Bendix Prize of the Comparative Historical Section of the American Sociological Association and was recipient of Cátedra de Excelencia (Excellence Chair) at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.


    • Co-winner of the 2014 Best Scholarly Book Award, Section on Global and Transnational Sociology, American Sociological Association
    • Winner of the 2014 Outstanding Published Book Award, Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity Section, American Sociological Association
    • Winner of the 2014 Distinguished Book Award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR)

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