Human Rights

Concepts, Contests, Contingencies
Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors
Brings together essays that examine contestation and contingency in today's human rights politics


Human Rights: Concepts, Contests, Contingencies brings together essays that attend to both the allure and criticism of human rights. They examine contestation and contingency in today's human rights politics and help us rethink some of the basic concepts of human rights.

Questions this volume addresses include: Can national self-determination be reconciled with human rights? Can human rights be advanced without thwarting efforts to develop indigenous legal traditions? How are the forces of modernization associated with globalization transforming our understanding of human dignity and personal autonomy? What does it mean to talk about culture and cultural choice? Is the protection of culture and cultural choice an important value in human rights discourse? How do human rights figure in local political contests and how are those contests, in turn, shaped by the spread of capitalism and market values? What contingencies shape the implementation of human rights in societies without a strong tradition of adherence to the rule of law? What are the conditions under which human rights claims are advanced and under which nations respond to their appeal?

In exploring a crucial and timely topic, this additional volume in the Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought will enlighten the reader to the social and intellectual currents surrounding human rights.


Abdullahi A. An-Na'im
Homi K. Bhabha
Jane F. Collier
Iris Marion Young

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College, past-President of the Law and Society Association, and current President of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities.

Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . A provocative contribution to the human rights discourse. The particular strength of this book. . . lies in the different disciplinary perspectives—philosophy, law, anthropology, political science, humanities—that the authors bring to bear upon some of the major intellectual questions in the field of human rights."
    —Richard Maiman, The Law and Politics Book Review, Volume 11, No. 11

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Copyright © 2001, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

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Review Law and Politics Book Review | 11/1/2001

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 136pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08903-1

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  • $25.95 U.S.

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