Human Rights A Political and Cultural Critique

ISBN-10: 0812220498

ISBN-13: 9780812220490

Edition: 2002

Authors: Makau Mutua

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In 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and with it a profusion of norms, processes, and institutions to define, promote, and protect human rights. Today virtually every cause seeks to cloak itself in the righteous language of rights. But even so, this universal reliance on the rights idiom has not succeeded in creating common ground and deep agreement as to the scope, content, and philosophical bases for human rights. Makau Mutua argues that the human rights enterprise inappropriately presents itself as a guarantor of eternal truths without which human civilization is impossible. Mutua contends that in fact the human rights corpus, though well meaning, is a Eurocentric construct for the reconstitution of non-Western societies and peoples with a set of culturally-biased norms and practices. Mutua maintains that if the human rights movement is to succeed, it must move away from Eurocentrism as a civilizing crusade and attack on non-European peoples. Only a genuine multicultural approach to human rights can make it truly universal. Indigenous, non-European traditions of Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas must be deployed to deconstruct--and to reconstruct--a universal bundle of rights that all human societies can claim as theirs.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Publication date: 10/21/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 264
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.166
Language: English

Human Rights as a Metaphor
The Metaphor of Human Rights
The Grand Narrative of Human Rights
The Metaphor of the Savage
The Metaphor of the Victim
The Metaphor of the Savior
Human Rights as an Ideology
The Authors of Human Rights
A Holy Trinity: Liberalism, Democracy, and Human Rights
Conventional Doctrinalists
The Conceptualizers
The Cultural Pluralists
Political Strategists and Instrumentalists
Human Rights and the African Fingerprint
Africa in a Rights Universe
Human Rights in Precolonial Africa
The Dialectic of Rights and Duties
The Duty/Rights Conception
Whither Africa?
Human Rights, Religion, and Proselytism
The Problem of Religious Rights
Demonizing the "Other"
Proselytization in Africa
The Legal Invisibility of Indigenous Religions
Ideals Versus Realities
The Moral Equivalency of Cultures
The African State, Human Rights, and Religion
Religion and African Statehood
Identity Disorientation
The Culture of Silence and Postcolonialism
Counterpenetration as a Farce
Benin Returns to Its Roots
The Limits of Rights Discourse
South Africa: the Human Rights State
The Rights Framework as an ANC Strategy: A Snapshot of Apartheid
The Evolution of a Rights Approach
The Compromise of the Interim Constitution
The 1996 Constitution as a Normative Continuum
The ANC's Gradualist Rights Approach
Land Reform as a Central Plank of the Struggle
Women in Post?Apartheid South Africa
The Status and Orientation of Post-Apartheid Courts
Humanizing the Instruments of Coercion
Rights Discourse Not a Panacea
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