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

Exercising Human Rights

Gender, Agency and Practice, 1st Edition

By Robin Redhead


186 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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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.


"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

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

About the Author

Robin Redhead is Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University

About the Series

Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics

International relations is a rapidly changing area of research, reacting to and anticipating an ever more integrated and globalised world. This series aims to publish the best new work in the field of international relations, and of politics more generally. Books in the series challenge existing empirical and normative theories, and advance new paradigms as well as presenting significant new research.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies