MIT21A_226F09_lec21 - Nov 23 2009 21 HUMAN RIGHTS...

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Nov. 23, 2009 21: HUMAN RIGHTS, COLLECTIVE RIGHTS Read: Messer: Anthropologists in a world with and without human rights Goldstein: Human rights as culprit, human rights as victim: rights and security in the state of exception Nagel: Reconstructing federal Indian policy: From termination to self- determination; The problematics of American Indian ethnicity I. Introduction 1 A. I will first talk about history of development of ideas about human rights 1. Discuss kinds of rights—women, children, civil, environment, etc. B. Then discuss contradiction between liberal and culturalist philosophies C. Followed by a brief discussion of ways to prevent human rights abuse D. Finally, ask whether international development helps secure human rights for all, or does it violate them? II. History of development of ideas about human rights A. In the United Nations: United Declaration of Human Rights 1948 1. Out of the Commission for the Rights of Mankind 2. Motivated by the Nazi atrocities and other examples of genocide 3. Resistance to the Declaration came from Great Britain (its actions in India), the U.S. (internal problems with blacks), Soviet Union 4. Of course earlier violations, like the massacre of over a million Armenians were seen as horrendous 5. But while there were laws against murder, there were no international conventions against genocide, against state terrorism, etc. B. The first articulation of the notion of human rights saw them in terms of basic rights to life—no torture, for example C. Today the rights discourse more complicated 1. Many kinds of rights are debated 1 This lecture follows the Messer reading. 21: Human Rights, Collective Rights 2009 1/19/10
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2 2 Sally Merry, 2001. Changing rights, changing culture. In Jane Cowan, Marie Bénédicte Dembour, and Richard A. Wilson, eds., Culture and rights: Anthropological Perspectives . Cambridge: Cambridge U Press 31-55. 2. For example, arguments are made that everyone is entitled to (has a right to) the benefits of Western technology 3. We have arguments in favor of rights of women, children, civil, environment, the right not to be impoverished, to health care, etc. 4. The Geneva convention governing treatment of prisoners of war 5. More recently: rights of the disabled, etc. 6. For example, protests against WTO (World Trade Organization), NAFTA are couched in discourses about rights a. And other structural adjustment policies that lead states to eliminate nutritional, health programs social service, etc. b. The protests argue that people have a right to these III. Human rights is a very popular topic, a popular type of activism today A. We have what we can call a “culture of human rights”: “the preeminent global language of social justice” (Merry 2001: 38 2 ) B. DISCUSS : student examples? 1.
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MIT21A_226F09_lec21 - Nov 23 2009 21 HUMAN RIGHTS...

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