Postgraduate Course: Cultures of Human Rights and Humanitarianism (PGSP11295)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The need to save humanity from itself has become one of the dominant cries in contemporary politics. The claims of human rights and humanitarianism have been at the forefront of this global urge to mend, ameliorate, or even transform the circumstances of disorder and atrocity, bring with them very particular visions of what it means to be human. However, the languages of human rights and humanitarianism are not a human constant. We therefore need to ask how have the approaches of human rights and humanitarianism become dominant, what assumptions do they hold and what tensions do they contain? As such, this course provides an examination of the nature of contemporary thinking and practice in the fields of human rights and humanitarianism. The core of the course is rooted in a broadly anthropological approach to the issues, but draws widely on history, politics, and sociology. Contemporary case studies will be used in order to illustrate the issues.
Week 1: Introduction:Saving Strangers
Week 2: Human rights activism
Week 3: Torture
Week 4: Freedom of conscience
Week 5: Transitional justice
Week 6: Searching for the non-Governmental
Week 7: Emergency as commodity
Week 8: Intervention and non-intervention
Week 9: Religion, the past and future of humanitarianism?
Week 10: International Criminal Justice
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- show an extensive and critical understanding of key debates relating to human rights and humanitarianism.
- show an advanced and critical understanding of the contribution of anthropology and other qualitative social sciences to the critical analysis of human rights and humanitarianism
- show an advanced and critical understanding of the historical and cultural particularity of contemporary ideas about human rights and humanitariani
Barnett, Michael and Thomas G. Weiss. 2009. Humanitarianism in Question: Politics, Power, Ethics. Cornell University Press.
Fassin, Didier and Richard Rechtman. 2009. Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. Princeton University Press.
Ignatieff, Michael. 2001. Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry. Princeton University Press.
Kennedy, David. 2004. The Dark Side of Virtue: Reassessing International Humanitarianism. Princeton University Press.
Merry, Sally Engle. 2005. Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice. University of Chicago Press.
Moyn, Samuel. 2010. The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Columbia University Press.
Sontag, Susan 2003. Regarding the Pain of Others. Picador.
Wilson, Richard A. and Richard Brown, eds. 2009. Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy. Cambridge University Press.
Wilson, Richard. 2001. The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Tobias Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3986
|Course secretary||Ms Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066