Human Rights at the Crossroads

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a dramatic expansion in both the international human rights system and the transnational networks of activists, development organizations, and monitoring agencies that partially reinforce it. Yet despite or perhaps because of this explosive growth, the multiple statuses of human rights remain as unsettled as ever.

Human Rights at the Crossroads brings together preeminent and emerging voices within human rights studies to think creatively about problems beyond their own disciplines, and to critically respond to what appear to be intractable problems within human rights theory and practice. It includes essays that rethink the ideas surrounding human rights and dignity, human rights and state interests in citizenship and torture, the practice of human rights in politics, genocide, and historical re-writing, and the anthropological and medical approaches to human rights.

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Human Rights at the Crossroads provides an integrative and interdisciplinary answer to the existing academic status quo, with broad implications for future theory and practice in all fields dealing with the problems of human rights theory and practice.

“We are challenged to identify, specify the possibilities, the constraints and indeed the contradictions that may arise when we are asked to put our Human Rights rhetoric to the test within economic frameworks, some of which may be unaccountable. In the human rights discourse old issues have been joined by new ones, challenging yet full of promise for scholarship and practice. Among the scholars is Professor Mark Goodale, who edited a recent work that carries the title Human Rights at the Crossroads. That work shows that the issues have not gone away. They remain, they extend and they become more complex.”

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, in a speech to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, San José, Costa Rica, October 29, 2013

“Beyond ritual invocations and expected contestations, the remarkable group of social anthropologists, political scientists, moral philosophers and legal scholars gathered in this volume lucidly interrogate the contemporary significance and relevance of human rights, linking original case studies with insightful theoretical analysis to explore their universal pretension and local appropriation, and discuss their tensions and aporias.”

Didier Fassin, Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the author of Humanitarian Reason