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Look Inside Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights

Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights


Martti Koskenniemi, Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, Pamela Slotte, Jacob Giltaij, Kaius Tuori, Virpi Mäkinen, Annabel Brett, Lynn Hunt, Samuel Moyn, Lauren Benton, Aaron Slater, Kathryn Kish Sklar, Martin Ceadel, Gregory Claeys, Dzovinar Kévonian, Taina Tuori, Olivier Barsalou, Conor Gearty
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  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107514911

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About the Authors
  • Did the history of human rights begin decades, centuries or even millennia ago? What constitutes this history? And what can we really learn from 'the textbook narrative' - the unilinear, forward-looking tale of progress and inevitable triumph authored primarily by Western philosophers, politicians and activists? Does such a distinguishable entity as 'the history of human rights' even exist, or are efforts to read evidence in past events of the later 'evolution' of human rights mere ideology? This book explores these questions through a collective effort by scholars of history, law, theology and anthropology. Rather than entities with an absolute, predefined 'essence', this book conceptualizes human rights as open-ended and ambiguous. It taps into recent 'revisionist' debates and asks: what do we really know of the history of human rights?

    • Examines the 'textbook' narrative of the origins of human rights and sheds important new light on the subject
    • Transgresses narrow conceptions of human rights, including the prevalent idea that human rights are 'mere law'
    • Paves the way for nuanced and analytically rigorous explorations of the contemporary human rights phenomenon
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'As part of the growing interest in the history of human rights, 'Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights' offers a dizzying array of insights into how 'rights' came to be mobilized, and how context and perspective, imagination and discourse, or ideology and narrative are not just of historiographical interest: they are the very key to understanding what rights are. Indispensable reading for historians of human rights and human rights practitioners alike.' Frédéric Mégret, McGill University, Montreal

    'Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights is a significant contribution to debates about the history of human rights, a field that is full of ideas and provocations. It brings together leading scholars from a range of disciplines and provides numerous original and thought-provoking insights.' Tobias Kelly, The University of Edinburgh

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107514911
    • length: 418 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword. History of human rights as political intervention in the present Martti Koskenniemi
    1. Revisiting the origins of human rights: introduction Miia Halme-Tuomisaari and Pamela Slotte
    Part I. Foundations: Antiquity to the Enlightenment:
    2. Human rights in antiquity? Revisiting anachronism and Roman law Jacob Giltaij and Kaius Tuori
    3. Medieval natural rights discourse Virpi Mäkinen
    4. Human rights and the Thomist tradition Annabel Brett
    Part II. Pluralities of Discourses and Rights: The Enlightenment and Single-Issue Causes in the Nineteenth Century:
    5. Revolutionary rights Lynn Hunt
    6. Giuseppe Mazzini in (and beyond) the history of human rights Samuel Moyn
    7. Constituting the Imperial community: rights, common good, and authority in Britain's Atlantic empire, 1607–1815 Lauren Benton and Aaron Slater
    8. Human rights discourse in women's rights conventions in the United States, 1848–70 Kathryn Kish Sklar
    9. The peace movement and human rights Martin Ceadel
    10. Socialism and the language of rights: the origins and implications of economic rights Gregory Claeys
    Part III. Institutional Practices and Relations of Rights: Toward the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    11. André Mandelstam and the internationalization of human rights (1869–1949) Dzovinar Kévonian
    12. From League of Nations mandates to decolonization: a brief history of rights Taina Tuori
    13. 'Blessed are the peacemakers': Christian internationalism, ecumenical voices and the quest for human rights Pamela Slotte
    14. Lobbying for relevance: American internationalists, French civil libertarians and the UDHR Miia Halme-Tuomisaari
    15. The Cold War and the rise of an American conception of human rights, 1945–8 Olivier Barsalou
    16. Afterword Conor Gearty.

  • Editors

    Pamela Slotte, University of Helsinki

    Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, University of Helsinki


    Martti Koskenniemi, Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, Pamela Slotte, Jacob Giltaij, Kaius Tuori, Virpi Mäkinen, Annabel Brett, Lynn Hunt, Samuel Moyn, Lauren Benton, Aaron Slater, Kathryn Kish Sklar, Martin Ceadel, Gregory Claeys, Dzovinar Kévonian, Taina Tuori, Olivier Barsalou, Conor Gearty

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