Human Rights

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In 2018-2019 the Columbia University Human Rights Seminar will focus on “Re-visioning Rights: Retrenchment; Resistance.” In many societies, human rights discourses and institutions face mounting backlash from forces threatened by their emancipatory potential. But the critique of human rights is not only articulated by conservative forces. Human rights scholars, advocates and policy makers have long trained our attention to the declining legitimacy of human rights, their inherent contradictions, and their oppressive potential. At this worrying juncture, our seminar seeks to provide a forum for presentations that offer critical analytical insights into the challenges posed by this backlash, the lessons to be drawn from past crises, and the opportunities for effective resistance that human rights still promise. In particular, we are interested in contributions that reflect on the legacy of critical thought in relation to rights discourses and practices, as well as contributions that address issues pertaining both to the erosion and the continuing relevance of rights in the present moment.

George Andreopoulos

Yasmine Ergas

Valeria Gomez Palacios



11/12/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Democratic Deterioration in Russia, Hungary and Poland: How and Why
Valerie Bunce, Cornell University

12/03/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Backlash against Human Rights Shaming: Insights from Emotional Psychology
Jack Snyder, Columbia University

02/04/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM


03/04/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM


04/08/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM