Fall 2013

History and Politics of Human Rights

Listed in: History, as HIST-312


Vanessa Walker (Section 01)


[C] This course will introduce students to major philosophical roots, historical developments, and contemporary debates in human rights politics.  The course will begin by examining the global historical evolution of the notion of human rights, stressing the pivotal role of the American and French Revolutions in framing modern conceptions of rights in the late eighteenth century. It will then examine the growth of international laws, institutions, and norms in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Finally, the course will explore the human rights dimensions of three major issues in contemporary politics: humanitarian intervention; the war on terror and national security; and global capitalism and working conditions.  Considerable weight and attention will be given to human rights issues in the context of the United States and its domestic and international politics. At the same time, the universalizing nature of human rights and their global import compels us to think beyond cultural, political, and historical boundaries to challenge our assumptions about the meaning and form of universal rights.  Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester.  Professor Walker.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2018, Spring 2019