response2 - Political Science Response 2: Womens Human...

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Political Science Response 2: Women’s Human Rights Movements Sally Engle Merry’s piece was a difficult piece for me to get through because I disagreed with her greatly. The article was based on her theory as to how human rights circulate and are transplanted into a society, stressing the importance of the middle man – the translators. She viewed certain activists, community leaders, or NGO participants as being translators who translate the universal language, or ‘discourse’, from the global arena to a more locally specific language and vice versa. Her specific definition is that “they are people who understand both the worlds of transnational human rights and local cultural practices and who can look both ways”, in other words, they are the middle men (and women). I have a problem with this definition. She places these individuals on too high of a pedestal and portrays this relationship as being far more simplistic than it actually is in reality. Her definitions of local and global infuriated me even more. She came across to me as an arrogant and ignorant fool. My interpretation of her definitions is that the West would be constituted as ‘global’ while all others would be ‘local’. The two most problematic characteristics for me of what she constituted as ‘local’ were the lack of education and cosmopolitanism. It paints this picture of the non-West ‘locals’ as being these illiterate fools who are too dumb to know when their rights are being violated, while the definition of education is based on Western standards. The theory behind cosmopolitanism is that all of humanity shares in this single moral community. A community based on the global (the West’s) definition of what is moral. So in essence, if your schema doesn’t fit with the West’s definition of what is moral, then you and others in your community are poor, uneducated idiots who unable to realize for yourselves that
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you are being mistreated and are in need of enlightening and saving by the ever-so- benevolent global. Her whole translation theory reminded me of the telephone game I used to play
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response2 - Political Science Response 2: Womens Human...

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