What does it mean to be a subject of human rights? The status of the subject is closely connected with the form and rhetoric of the framing discourse, and this book investigates the relationship between the status of the subject and the form of human rights discourse, in differing aesthetic and social contexts. Historical as well as contemporary declarations of rights have stressed both the protective and political aspects of human rights. But in concrete situations and conflictual moments, the high moral legitimacy of human rights rhetoric has often clouded the actual character of specific interventions, and so made it difficult to differentiate between the objects of humanitarian intervention and the subjects of politics. Critically re-examining this opposition – between victims and agents of human rights – through a focus on the ways in which discourses of rights are formed and circulated within and between political societies, this book elicits the fluidity of their relationship, and with it the shifting relation between human rights and humanitarianism. Analysing the symbolic framings of testimonies, disaster stories, atrocity tales, political speeches, and philosophical arguments, it thus establishes a relationship between these different genres and the political, economic, and legal dimensions of human rights discourse.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Jonas Ross Kjærgård & Karen-Margrethe Simonsen Part One: Troublesome Origins: The Genealogies of Human Rights 1. On the Use and Abuse of History in Philosophy of Human Rights, Lena Halldenius 2. The Political Agency of Victims in Atrocity Tales by Bartolomé de las Casas: The Spanish Origin of Human Rights Karen-Margrethe Simonsen 3. The Inequality of Common Utility: Active/Passive Citizenship in French Revolutionary Human Rights, Jonas Ross Kjærgård 4. The Right to Resist in the 1793 Declaration of Rights, Nicolai Von Eggers Part Two: Negotiating Victimhood: The Politics of Contextual Rhetoric 5. From Utopia to Dystopia? Bukharin and the Soviet Constitution of 1936, Elisa Kriza 6. From Passive Victimhood to Committed Citizenship: Story-telling by Victims of the ‘Years of Lead’ in Italy – In Search of Justice and Truth in Spite of the State, Marie Andreasen & Leonardo Cecchini 7. Exemplary Victims and Opaque Agents: Remembering Algeria’s Black Decade, Madeleine Dobie 8. On Gothic Romance and the Happy Ending: Legislating the Human Rights of Transnational Migrant Workers and their Families, Gale Coskan-Johnson 9. Willful Targets of Rights, Hanna Musiol Part Three: Responding to Human Suffering: Affective Space and Aesthetic Response 10. Drawing the Line: Zombies and Citizens in Heinrich von Kleist's ‘The Earthquake in Chile’, Isak Winkel Holm 11. Recoding The Look of Silence, Alexandra Schultheis Moore 12. The Problem of Empathy: Reading the Wilkomirski Affair in the Light of the History of Literature, Ingvild Hagen Kjørholt 13. The Predicament of Spectatorship: Renzo Martens and the Humanitarian Image, Devika Sharma 14. Agency from Beyond the Grave: A Case Study of the Documentary and Dramatic Aspects of Rabih Mroué’s Pixelated Revolution, Peter Ole Pedersen 15. Victimhood, voice and power in digital media, Lilie Chouliaraki
Karen-Margrethe Simonsen and Jonas Ross Kjærgård are both based in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark.