Two Notions of Human Rights

Upendra Baxi

in The Future of Human Rights

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195690439
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081059 | DOI:
Two Notions of Human Rights

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It is important to identify at the outset the strong and the weak hegemonic claims in the stories of the origin of human rights. The strong claim (the ‘impossibility thesis’) insists that human rights traditions ‘could only have originated in the West’. The weak claim comprises two ideas: first, human rights traditions ‘originated historically in the West’ (the historic claim) and, second, human rights ‘have been propagated from the West’ (the evangelical claim). This chapter discusses the ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ views of human rights, as well as the logics of social exclusion and social inclusion, human rights languages and powers of governance, human suffering and human rights, fragmented universality of ‘contemporary’ human rights, the Cold War naturalization of human rights violations, outlawry of racism, the Marxian critique of bourgeois human rights formation, new forms of global solidarity, and the emergence of the politics ‘of’ and ‘for’ human rights.

Keywords: Cold War; human rights; impossibility thesis; West; historic claim; evangelical claim; governance; human suffering; politics; social exclusion

Chapter.  10892 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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