Imperial powers have often been among the most vocal advocates of human rights. Are human rights ideals in tension with imperialism, or might such ideals in fact be implicated in imperial projects? Especially if such ideals have been complicit in empire, can invocations of human rights still be useful in opposing imperial and racial domination? How does the history of human rights relate to the history of imperialism and decolonization?
This conference will bring together graduate students working with a range of theoretical and historical approaches to address the politics of human rights in relation to race and empire. Potential topics include (but are not limited to) the relationship between liberalism and empire; questions of intervention and sovereignty; narratives of nationhood in human rights discourse; the place of international law in past and contemporary forms of imperialism; international imaginaries and forms of solidarity beyond the nation-state; and connections between human rights, sovereignty, and self-determination.
This conference is sponsored by the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, with support from the Franke Institute for the Humanities.