The Imperialist Argument

Arvind Sharma

in Are Human Rights Western?

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195679489
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081714 | DOI:
The Imperialist Argument

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This chapter examines the imperial argument for the claim that human rights are Western. One version of the argument is that the colonized had no concept of human rights as such. Thus, the very conception of human rights is a ‘gift of the West to the rest’. Such a view must confront the fact that the growth in human rights in the West was coeval with the rise of Western imperialism, and that the Western formulation was never intended to include all human beings. It may be possible, however, to defend human rights discourse and free it from the taint of Western imperialism by pointing out that resistance to imperialism also constituted an assertion of human rights.

Keywords: human rights; Western imperialism; colonialism; liberalism; the colonized; resistance to imperialism

Chapter.  653 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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