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Human Rights A Political and Cultural Critique
Mutua, Makau.
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Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania, c2002. (Baltimore, Md. : Project MUSE, 2015)
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1 online resource (ix, 252 p. )
Book collections on Project MUSE.
Machine generated contents note: 1. Human Rights as a Metaphor 10 -- The Metaphor of Human Rights 10 -- The Grand Narrative of Human Rights 15 -- The Metaphor of the Savage 22 -- The Metaphor of the Victim 27 -- The Metaphor of the Savior 31 -- 2. Human Rights as an Ideology 39 -- The Authors of Human Rights 39 -- A Holy Trinity: Liberalism, Democracy, and Human Rights 44 -- The Conventional Doctrinalists 47 -- The Conceptualizers 56 -- The Cultural Pluralists 64 -- Political Strategists and Instrumentalists 67 -- 3. Human Rights and the African Fingerprint 71 -- Africa in a Rights Universe 71 -- Human Rights in Precolonial Africa 74 -- The Dialectic of Rights and Duties 82 -- The Duty/Rights Conception 84 -- Whither Africa? 92 -- 4. Human Rights, Religion, and Proselytism 94 -- The Problem of Religious Rights 94 -- Demonizing the "Other" 98.
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eBook ER189981 JC571 .M95 2002 Electronic Resources

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In 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and with it a profusion of norms, processes, and institutions to define, promote, and protect human rights. Today virtually every cause seeks to cloak itself in the righteous language of rights. But even so, this universal reliance on the rights idiom has not succeeded in creating common ground and deep agreement as to the scope, content, and philosophical bases for human rights.

Makau Mutua argues that the human rights enterprise inappropriately presents itself as a guarantor of eternal truths without which human civilization is impossible. Mutua contends that in fact the human rights corpus, though well meaning, is a Eurocentric construct for the reconstitution of non-Western societies and peoples with a set of culturally biased norms and practices.

Mutua maintains that if the human rights movement is to succeed, it must move away from Eurocentrism as a civilizing crusade and attack on non-European peoples. Only a genuine multicultural approach to human rights can make it truly universal. Indigenous, non-European traditions of Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas must be deployed to deconstruct--and to reconstruct--a universal bundle of rights that all human societies can claim as theirs.

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