Activating Cultural and Social Change : The Pedagogies of Human Rights book cover
1st Edition

Activating Cultural and Social Change
The Pedagogies of Human Rights

ISBN 9780367487270
Published December 24, 2021 by Routledge
282 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In this thought-provoking book, a diverse range of educators, activists, academics, and community advocates provide theoretical and practical ways of activating our knowledge and understanding of how to build a human rights culture.

Addressing approaches and applications to human rights within current socio-cultural, political, socio-legal, environmental, educational, and global contexts, these chapters explore tensions, contradictions, and complexities within human rights education. The book establishes cultural and educational practices as intrinsically linked to human rights consciousness and social justice, showing how signature pedagogies used by human rights practitioners can be intellectual, creative, or a combination of both. Across three sections, the book discusses ways of bringing about holistic, relevant, and compelling approaches for challenging and understanding structures of power, which have become a global system, while also suggesting a move from abstract human rights principles, declarations, and instruments to meaningful changes that do not dehumanise and distance us from intrinsic and extrinsic oppressions, denial of identity and community, and other forms of human rights abuse.

Offering new critical cultural studies approaches on how a human rights consciousness arises and is practised, this book will be of great interest to scholars and students of cultural studies, education studies, critical sociology, human rights education, and human rights studies.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Contributors
Preface and Acknowledgements

Imagining and Enacting Hopeful Futures in Human Rights Education
Gerard Goggin

1. The Pedagogies of Human Rights: in truthfulness, what should be done?
Baden Offord, Caroline Fleay, Lisa Hartley, Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes and Dean Chan

Section I: Contexts

2. Context-Centred Decolonial Pedagogy for Human Rights Education in Africa
Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes

3. Human Rights Pedagogy in Context: Critical Indigenous Studies
Marcelle Townsend-Cross

4. “Here We are Equal”: Refugee-Run Schools as a Vehicle for Human Rights Pedagogy
Muzafar Ali, Lucy Fiske and Nina Burridge

5. The Pedagogics of Disability–Indigenous Intersectionalities in the Age of Austerity
Karen Soldatic and Michelle Fitts
6. Pedagogies of Resistance for Challenging Islamophobia
Linda Briskman

Section II: Perspectives

7. A Pedagogy of Dissent for Human Rights Education
Greg Watson

8. Collective Work with People Seeking Asylum: Pedagogical Encounters and the Role of the Human Rights Academic
Caroline Fleay, Lisa Hartley and Jenny Silburn

9. Other Echoes in the Garden: Human Rights, Peripheral Vision and Ghosts
John Ryan and Baden Offord

10. Centring and Decentring the ‘Human’ in Human Rights Pedagogy
Jim Ife

11. Human Rights Film Festivals: More than Witnessing
Sonia Tascón

Section III: Practices

12. Cultivating Human Connection in the Everyday: A Practical Model for Solidarity
Nick Maisey, Misty Farquhar and Katie Curo
13. Educating the Heart: A Journey into Teaching First Nations Human Rights
Carol Dowling 

14. Student Approaches to Learning in Human Rights Education: Supporting Deep and Transformative Learning in Postgraduate Peace and Conflict Studies
Leticia Anderson

15. Online Refugee Advocacy Campaigns in Australia: Approaches to Care and an Affective Human Rights Pedagogy
Sukhmani Khorana 

16. Mainstreaming Accessible Digital Technologies in Higher Education: A Human Rights Approach to Disability Inclusion
Katie Ellis, Tim Pitman, Mike Kent, Vincent Mancini and Leanne McRae

17. Roundtable: Connection, Community and Context
Baden Offord, Caroline Fleay, Lisa Hartley, Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes and Dean Chan


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Baden Offord AO is an educator, social justice activist and researcher in the field of cultural studies and human rights.

Caroline Fleay teaches human rights and engages in research and advocacy with people from asylum seeking backgrounds in Australia. 

Lisa Hartley is a researcher, educator, and activist whose work is focused on questions of human rights, social justice and social change.

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes researches on social and epistemic injustices focusing on African experiences and Ethiopian traditions. He writes creatively on belonging and diasporic lives.

Dean Chan is a freelance editor and research development consultant. He has published widely on Asian and Asian Australian visual culture, digital media, and cultural studies.


As the litany of human rights abuses continues to grow every day, many politicians and journalists around the world, even key thinkers, have pronounced the "end of human rights." Yet clearly what we need at this frightening juncture is new, cutting edge, and deeply reflective human rights education. "There is nothing innocent about doing human rights education," this important book proclaims, and with this, and through remembering Paulo Freire, it activates an honest, incisive, and compassionate inquiry on how to practice human rights education more truthfully. Encountering the exemplars drawn from a wide range of contexts and perspectives in the global North and global South, readers of this book will be enthralled, activists will be energized, and educators more alert and hopeful.

John Nguyet Erni, Fung Hon Chu Endowed Chair of Humanics, Hong Kong Baptist University, and author of Law and Cultural Studies: A Critical Rearticulation of Human Rights

Commemorating the birth of Paulo Freire a century ago, Activating Cultural and Social Change embodies the spirit of Freire. Understanding that power vis-á-vis multiple critical theoretical lenses must be named and interrogated, this book gathers diverse voices to query and unravel socially-just activism, pedagogy and community in order to solidify a way of being that internalizes human rights. Enacting Freire’s commitment to radical love, the authors work together to revolutionize cultures, societies and ways of knowing which connect, emancipate and honor all beings.

Shirley R Steinberg, Research Professor, Traditional Territories of the Treaty 7 Region and Métis Nation of Alberta, Werklund School of Education, The University of Calgary, Canada