Human Rights and Radical Social Transformation : Futurity, Alterity, Power book cover
1st Edition

Human Rights and Radical Social Transformation
Futurity, Alterity, Power

ISBN 9781138690219
Published August 16, 2017 by Routledge
174 Pages

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Book Description

Against the recent backdrop of sociopolitical crisis, radical thinking and activism to challenge the oppressive operation of power has increased. Such thinkers and activists have aimed for radical social transformation in the sense of challenging dominant ways of viewing the world, including the neoliberal illusion of improving the welfare of all while advancing the interests of only some. However, a question mark has remained over the utility of human rights in this activity and the capability of rights to challenge, as opposed to reinforce, discourses such as liberalism, capitalism, internationalism and statism. It is at this point that the present work aims to intervene. Drawing upon critical legal theory, radical democratic thinking and feminist perspectives, Human Rights and Radical Social Transformation seeks to reassess the radical possibilities for human rights and explore how rights may be re-engaged as a tool to facilitate radical social change via the concept of ‘human rights to come’. This idea proposes a reconceptualisation of human rights in theory and practice which foregrounds human rights as inherently futural and capable of sustaining a critical relation to power and alterity in radical politics.

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. The Excesses of Human Rights: Beginning to Think A Futural Future for Human Rights
  3. (Re)Doing Rights: The Performativity of Human Rights To Come
  4. Universality as Universalisation: The Universality of Human Rights To Come
  5. Beyond Consensus: The Agonism of Human Rights To Come
  6. Rethinking Paradoxical Sovereignty: The Ontology of Human Rights To Come
  7. On Translation: The Practice of Human Rights To Come
  8. Re-reading Feminist Engagements with Rights via Human Rights To Come

Conclusion as Non-Conclusion
The possibilities of non-conclusion
The challenges of non-conclusion
A future in the futural

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Kathryn McNeilly is a Lecturer in Law at Queen’s University Belfast.