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Culture and Human Rights - ANTH323

This unit examines human rights across cultures, asking how contemporary human rights concepts came to be, and exploring the difficulties involved in translating “universal” rights into new and unfamiliar cultural settings. It seeks to answer the question of how human rights advocacy should best proceed in a world where the universal applicability of a human rights framework cannot be assumed. To this end we will focus on three modes in which conversations, practices, and institutions of human rights and culture have come into articulation. Following anthropologist Jane Cowans, these include "rights versus culture" (the problem of how to reconcile universalist and relativist tendencies in the understanding of human rights), "rights to culture" (in which particular forms of imagined community become the basis for the achieving of human rights demands) and "rights as culture" (in which rights themselves are treated as culturally specific phenomena). Questions to be considered include the following: how much should individual rights be affected by terrorism and fears for security in different places? Should developing economies prioritize economic over civil rights? Should minority rights or indigenous rights be defended if these rights come into conflict with those of other entities? Are global capitalism and human rights are ultimately compatible?

Credit Points: 3
When Offered:

S1 Day - Session 1, North Ryde, Day

Staff Contact(s): Dr Chris Vasantkumar

(39cp at 100 level or above) or admission to GDipArts  Prerequisite Information


NCCW(s): ANTH380
Unit Designation(s):


Unit Type:
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Anthropology

Faculty of Arts

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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