Chapter

Relating to the Subjects of Human Rights: The Culture of Agency in Human Rights Discourse

Sally Engle Merry

in Law and Anthropology

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199580910
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723025 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580910.003.0015

Series: Current Legal Issues

 Relating to the Subjects of Human Rights: The Culture of Agency in Human Rights Discourse

Show Summary Details

Preview

The notion of agency is deeply enshrined in human rights discourse. This chapter argues that human rights discourse, particularly with reference to women, relies on a particular understanding of agency. It seeks to promote women's agency at the same time as it establishes borders beyond which consent is impossible. By discussing several empirical cases where agency is restricted because vulnerable victims must be protected, the chapter seeks to winnow out the subjectivity that is under construction. It does not argue that every society has the right to its own values, in a relativist way. Instead, it views human rights discourse as culturally productive, aiming to foster a certain kind of personhood through its practices of protection.

Keywords: human rights discourse; women's rights; women's agency

Chapter.  10939 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.