Exercising Human Rights : Gender, Agency and Practice book cover
1st Edition

Exercising Human Rights
Gender, Agency and Practice

ISBN 9780415833011
Published October 20, 2014 by Routledge
202 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Exercising Human Rights investigates why human rights are not universally empowering and why this damages people attempting to exercise rights. It takes a new approach in looking at humans as the subject of human rights rather than the object and exposes the gendered and ethnocentric aspects of violence and human subjectivity in the context of human rights.

Using an innovative visual methodology, Redhead shines a new critical light on human rights campaigns in practice. She examines two cases in-depth. First, she shows how Amnesty International depicts women negatively in their 2004 ‘Stop Violence against Women Campaign’, revealing the political implications of how images deny women their agency because violence is gendered. She also analyses the Oka conflict between indigenous people and the Canadian state. She explains how the Canadian state defined the Mohawk people in such a way as to deny their human subjectivity. By looking at how the Mohawk used visual media to communicate their plight beyond state boundaries, she delves into the disjuncture between state sovereignty and human rights.

This book is useful for anyone with an interest in human rights campaigns and in the study of political images.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Gender, Agency and Practice  1. Overview  2. The Fallacy of Gender-Neutrality  3. Agency and Practice  Part 2: Exercising Human Rights  4. Visual Methodology  5. Visualising Women’s Agency: Amnesty International’s 2004 Campaign Stop Violence against Women  6. Not in Our Backyard: Visual Agency in the Oka Crisis  7. Reflections

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Robin Redhead is Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University


"In this excellent book, Robin Redhead explores some very big questions with a commendable thoughtful subtlety and methodological rigour. Her discussion of why human rights are not universally empowering - the ubiquitous question for human rights advocates – is particularly useful and makes a significant contribution to the field of human rights studies." --Damien Short, University of London

"Focusing on the visual, Redhead insightfully demonstrates why human rights, in theory and practice, remain hotly contested. The two fascinating case studies, both with undiminished contemporary relevance, well illustrate the intricate but volatile mix of gender, identity, subjectivity, agency and power which makes human rights so vital, yet so elusive. Essential reading for anyone with an interest in human rights." --Marysia Zalewski, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK