Politics, History and International Relations

Research

The Leverhulme Trust - caption border

Who Counts? The political problem of the 'human'

The aim of this project, funded by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (Sept 2013-August 2016), is to explore why the lives, deaths and sufferings of some populations matter more politically than others and what purposes are served by ranking life, death and suffering in hierarchical ways. For, although Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, examples abound to indicate that, in fact, not all human life or death is valued in the same way and thus not everyone is apprehensible as ‘fully human’.

There are three inter-connected senses of counting that inform the research. The first refers to counting in the computational sense and focuses on the politics of body counts. It examines which deaths are counted and which are not, how they are counted, who does the counting, and also how those statistics are then used. The second sense of count, influenced by the writings of Jacques Rancière, opens up questions about who might be regarded as possessing the specific qualities that qualify one to be part of the count in question. So, for example, in terms of violence, counting here might equate to who is recognizable legally, politically, and/or militarily as a ‘civilian’ and who is not. Finally, drawing from the work of Judith Butler, the project explores the idea of counting as mattering; namely, whose lives, politically, are considered worthy of esteem, consideration, or security or, to put it differently, which lives matter.

The research centres on a number of case studies that focus variously on fatality metrics, the politics of naming the dead, heteronormativity and the development of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in the US, the significance of ‘whiteness’ to Australian national identity and, in particular, the refusal to count Aboriginal peoples in the ‘reckoning of numbers’ of the population of the Australian Commonwealth (as enshrined in the 1900 Constitution).

Planned outputs include conference papers, journal articles, chapters, and a research monograph.

Moya Lloyd – Professor of Political Theory

Conference papers, talks, and workshops

  • Moya Lloyd, ‘Equality, rights, and the performative politics of the human’. Paper presented at the Political Studies Association 66th Annual International Conference, Politics and the Good Life, Brighton Metropole, 21-23 March 2016.
  • Moya Lloyd, Guest speaker at a roundtable on Anne Phillips’, The Politics of the Human, organised as part of the Global Ethics and Political Theory Research Seminar, Department of Politics, University of Leicester, 2 December 2015.
  • Moya Lloyd, ‘Why the human? Why now?’. Paper presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Diversities Reconsidered: Politics and Political Science in the 21st Century, San Francisco, US, 3-6 September 2015.
  • Moya Lloyd, ‘Vulnerability, grievability, and the body’. Paper delivered to the Christina Research Seminar, University of Helsinki, Finland, 12 May 2015
  • Moya Lloyd, ‘Who counts? The political problem of the “human”’. Lecture delivered as part of the University of Kent Public Lecture Series, University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), Belgium, 4 February 2015.
  • Moya Lloyd, ‘Framing the Human’. Workshop delivered at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), Belgium, 4 February 2015.
  • Moya Lloyd, ‘Naming absence: the politics of body counts’. Paper presented to the Contemporary Political Theory Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, 21 November 2014.

Moya presented a paper, ‘Equality, rights, and the performative politics of the human’, at the Political Studies Association’s 66th Annual International Conference in Brighton, 21-23 March 2016. The conference theme was Politics and the Good Life. The panel was organised under the auspices of the specialist group Global Justice and Human Rights.

On 2 December 2015, Moya participated in a roundtable on Anne Phillips’, The Politics of the Human, organised as part of the Global Ethics and Political Theory Research Seminar series run by the Department of Politics at the University of Leicester. Moya has also written a review of the book for Contemporary Political Theory, which is available here.

During September 2015 Moya was a visiting researcher at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra, Australia.

Moya presented a paper, entitled, ‘Why the human? Why now?’, at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Diversities Reconsidered: Politics and Political Science in the 21st Century, in San Francisco, US, 3-6 September 2015. The paper was part of the panel, The ‘human’ and its others, convened and chaired by Lloyd, which also included papers by participants from the UK, US, and New Zealand.

In May 2015 Moya returned to the University of Helsinki to deliver a paper entitled ‘Vulnerability, grievability, and the body’ to the Christina Research Seminar, run by the Department of Gender Studies. The seminar is the leading forum for gender research in Finland.

On February 4 2015 Moya visited the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) in Belgium to run a workshop for researchers from across the country on the subject of ‘Framing the Human’ and to deliver a public lecture, ‘Who counts? The political problem of the “human”’, as part of the University of Kent Public Lecture Series.

Moya delivered a paper, ‘Naming absence: the politics of body counts’, to the Contemporary Political Theory Research Seminar at the University of Cambridge on 21 November 2014.

Moya Major Research Fellowship was featured in The Leverhulme Trust Annual Review 2012, ‘Awards in Focus’ (pp. 20-21) available by here.

For more information about the project click here (Awards in Focus’, pp. 20-21).