Blog posted under Anthropology

This Human Rights Blog is managed by University of Chicago graduate students who are exploring human rights thought and practice from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Readers can sort by topic or start here to read more about the blog.

Anthropology and Philosophy

e-Flux Architecture and the "Superhumanity" series

Although "Superhumanity" has since wrapped up, for those interested in how human rights resonates across the disciplines and the ways it is located in the world, I would highly recommend articles from this series. "Superhumanity" emerged out of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial and is a direct response to this biennial's theme of "Are We Human?" It brought togeter an interdisciplinary team of historians, archaeologists, artists, anthropologists, scientists, and philosophers.

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Anthropology

Should We Move Human Rights, or Should Human Rights Move Us? Reflecting on the Possibilities of A Broken Academic Heart

"Your own actions are a better mirror of your life than the actions of all your enemies put together. That is why I told you to watch what you do to others instead of always thinking about what others do to you."--from Ngugi wa Thiongo's "Wizard of the Crow" (2006)

Although I am a graduate student in Anthropology, it was literature and the humanities that first introduced me to human rights and emphasized the immensity of their social importance. The work of African writers like Ngugi, Wole Soyinka, Mongo Béti, and Amos Tutuola were not just read for the beauty of the prose but for the magnitude of the stories they told. Ngugi sharply depicts the horrors of the Mau Mau rebellion in his Weep Not, Child, while Beti fictionalizes and satirizes the effects of missionaries in colonial Cameroon in the Poor Christ of Bomba. Refusing to gloss any side as purely evil, Béti rather equates evil to the ways that power is used and abused, regardless of sex, race, nationality, or creed. For the sake of brevity, this wave of literature can be seen as the advent of a calling to human rights outside of the realm of the purely political.

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