The course explores new modes of global governance linked to the emergence of an international politics of protection in various forms. This burgeoning and multivalent political form is said to have colonized contemporary international political debates, and is rooted in the conviction that the international community has an ethical responsibility to protect those most in need, especially victims of political violence, poverty, health epidemics and natural disasters. The politics of protection is intimately bound up with contemporary humanitarianism, and at times is used to justify military intervention in cases of flagrant breaches of human rights norms. But what forms of power might this politics give rise to, authorize, delimit, and preclude? To what extent does the politics of protection signal an incarnation of empire? In what ways might it open up new possibilities for democracy? The course sets out to question whether and when political interventions in the name of “protection” can provide the intended humanitarian relief or security they promise. Close attention will be paid to the ways this mode of governance may produce new forms of regulation, vulnerability, and victimization for the very subjects it sets out to help. Class discussions and assignments will be structured around assigned texts from an array of disciplines (political theory, anthropology, international law, and psychology, for ex.) Possible case studies we will explore include: the so-called “humanitarian bombing” of Kosovo, the “Save Darfur” campaign, “the War on Terror” and Guantanamo, environmental treaties to counter global warming, programs to stop the spread of Ebola in Africa, asylum policies in France, peacekeeping missions in the Congo, and transnational anti-trafficking campaigns, to name a few. Readings will look at regional, national, and transnational instantiations of the global politics of protection, and will include works by Michel Foucault, Anne Orford, Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, Didier Fassin, Mahmood Mamdami, Miriam Ticktin, Eyal Weisman, and Kofi Annan, among others.