The Routledge History of Human Rights  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge History of Human Rights

ISBN 9781032089669
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
690 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations


FREE Standard Shipping
USD $52.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

The Routledge History of Human Rights is an interdisciplinary collection that provides historical and global perspectives on a range of human rights themes of the past 150 years.

The volume is made up of 34 original contributions. It opens with the emergence of a "new internationalism" in the mid-nineteenth century, examines the interwar, League of Nations, and the United Nations eras of human rights and decolonization, and ends with the serious challenges for rights norms, laws, institutions, and multilateral cooperation in the national security world after 9/11. These essays provide a big picture of the strategic, political, and changing nature of human rights work in the past and into the present day, and reveal the contingent nature of historical developments. Highlighting local, national, and non-Western voices and struggles, the volume contributes to overcoming Eurocentric biases that burden human rights histories and studies of international law. It analyzes regions and organizations that are often overlooked. The volume thus offers readers a new and broader perspective on the subject.

International in coverage and containing cutting-edge interpretations, the volume provides an overview of major themes and suggestions for future research. This is the perfect book for those interested in social justice, grass roots activism, and international politics and society.

Table of Contents

List of maps and images

List of contributors


1. Introduction: An Open-Ended and Contingent History of Human Rights

Jean H. Quataert and Lora Wildenthal

Part 1. The New Internationalism

2. John Anderson - Slave, Refugee, and Freedom Fighter: A Human Rights Campaign in the Age of Empire

Caroline Shaw

3. Investigating and Ameliorating Atrocities in the Nineteenth Century: International Commissions of Inquiry in the Balkans (1876-1880)

Benjamin E. Brockman-Hawe

4. Reclaiming Congo Reform for the History of Human Rights

Mairi S. MacDonald

5. The Red Cross and the Laws of War, 1863-1949: International Rights Activism before Human Rights

Kimberly Lowe

Part 2. The Interwar Era: The League of Nations

6. United in their Quest for Peace? Transnational Women Activists between the World Wars

Marie Sandell

7. The "Rights of Man" and Sex Equality: International Human Rights Discourses in the 1930s

Regula Ludi

Part 3. The Formative UN Era

A. UN Treaty Making

8. Social and Economic Rights: The Struggle for Equivalent Protection

Claire-Michelle Smyth

9. Islam and UN Human Rights Treaty Ratification in the Middle East: The Impact of International Law on Diplomacy

Rachel A. George

10. When the War Came: The Child Rights Convention and the Conflation of Human Rights and the Laws of War

Linde Lindkvist

B. Decolonization

11. "Why Then Call It the Declaration of Human Rights?" The Failures of Universal Human Rights in Colonial Africa’s Internationally Supervised Territories

Meredith Terretta

12. Decolonization, Development, and Identity: The Evolution of the Anticolonial Human Rights Critique, 1948-1978

Roland Burke

13. "When You are Weak, You Have to Stick to Principles": Botswana and Anti-Colonialism in Human Rights History

James Christian Kirby

C. Socialist and Capitalist Versions of Human Rights

14. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Gender of Economic Rights

Eileen Boris and Jill Jensen

15. Human Rights Movements and the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Explaining the Peaceful Revolution of 1989

Ned Richardson-Little

16. Human Rights in China: Resisting Orthodoxy

Pitman B. Potter

17. Continuity and Change in U.S. Human Rights Policy

Sarah B. Snyder

Part 4. After Formal Empire and the Cold War: How Human Rights are Practiced Around the Globe (1980s-2001)

18. The Universality of Human Rights: Early NGO Practices in the Arab World

Catherine Baylin Dureya

19. How Women Become Human: Chilean Contributions to Women’s Human Rights from Dictatorship to the 21st Century

Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney

20. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo: From Dictatorship to Democracy

Jennifer Adair

21. Asma Jahangir: Personifying the Human Rights Debate in Pakistan

Afiya Shehrbano Zia

Part 5. The Universal Human Rights Pantheon in National Contexts

22. Freedom of Religion and the New Diversity: Case Studies from Canada

Lori G. Beaman

23. Indigenous Activism for Human Rights: A Case Study from Australia

Rachel Standfield and Lynette Russell

24. The International LGBT Rights Movement: An Introductory History

Laura A. Belmonte

25. Rights in Isolation: Lessons on Public Health and Human Rights from Leprosy and HIV in the Pacific Islands

Adam R Houston

Part 6. New Forms of Accountability in a National Security World (2001 to the Present)

26. Decentralization and Public-Private Diplomacy in the Business and Human Rights Field

Steven S. Nam

27. The Selectivity of Universal Jurisdiction: The History of Transnational Human Rights Prosecutions in Latin America and Spain

Ulrike Capdepón

28. Militarized Sexual Violence and Campaigns for Redress

Vera Mackie

29. Solidarity Rights and the Common Heritage of Humanity

Anca Claudia Prodan

30. Intellectual Property Law and Human Rights

Steven Wilf

31. Caged at the Border: Immigration Detention and the Denial of Human Rights to Asylum Seekers and Other Migrants

Stephanie J. Silverman and Petra Molnar

Part 7. The Transformative Impact of Human Rights on Knowledge

32. Archiving Human Rights in Latin America: Transitional Justice and Shifting Visions of Political Change

Michelle Carmody

33. Emotion in the History of Human Rights: A Case Study of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Christine Lavrence

34. From the Classroom to the Public: Engaging Students in Human Rights History

Jessica M. Frazier

A Bibliography on the History of Human Rights


View More



Jean H. Quataert is SUNY Distinguished Professor of History Emerita at Binghamton University, USA and co-editor of the Journal of Women’s History (2010–20). She has published many books and articles, including Advocating Dignity: Human Rights Mobilization in Global Politics (2009) and "A New Look at International Law: Gendering the Practices of Humanitarian Medicine in Europe’s ‘Small Wars,’ 1879–1907," Human Rights Quarterly, 2018, vol. 40, no. 3, 547–69.

Lora Wildenthal is John Antony Weir Professor of History and Associate Dean of Humanities at Rice University in Houston, Texas, USA. She is the author of German Women for Empire, 1884–1945 (2001) and The Language of Human Rights in West Germany (2013).


'Through deft case studies from the nineteenth century to the present day that span the globe, this remarkable collection draws together leading scholars in the field to offer a primer in human rights history as it ought to be written: attentive to power, contestation and contingency, the legacies of empire, the growing reach of the human rights imagination and the diverse often non-Western actors that made it so. It is a marvelous achievement.'

Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago, USA

'This is a very stimulating collection of essays that succeeds in capturing the diverse and colorful histories of human rights in all of their ups and downs. The contributors eschew progress narratives and temptations to identify single foundational years or decades, but shed immense new light on key episodes. It is clearly an indispensable reference work.'

Philip Alston, New York University School of Law, USA