Anthropology of Human Rights

The Anthropology of Human Rights explores human rights from multiple perspectives, including the theoretical or philosophical aspects of human rights, the practical problems of implementation and protection, the institutional dimensions, and, in particular, the dilemmas associated with the use of human rights in cross-cultural or comparative perspective. Human rights theory and institutions are used as major vehicles for addressing conflict at various social and political levels, and in diverse geographical contexts. Intense and protracted conflict around the world inevitably leads to a call by individuals and institutions to protect the human rights of victims and to use a human rights framework to seek redress from violators. In addition, globalization has created a dynamic in which human rights theory and practice have come to form the foundation for a variety of initiatives including international development and foreign aid, civil society projects, bilingual education, community conflict resolution, gender equality, truth and reconciliation commissions, and the protection of children, among many others.

This subfield reflects the importance of anthropological methodologies and theories to many of the most socially and politically relevant questions of our times. It also draws upon debates that have infused classic political and ethical theory: the nature of the just society; the rights of individuals and of collectives; the forms and content of democracy; the nature of social rights and social obligations. Thus, among the goals of this secondary field will be providing students with a solid grounding in the philosophical underpinnings of human rights, preparing them to critically analyze current debates in the theory and practice of human rights.

Requirements: 4 half-courses

  1. One entry-level half-course in Anthropology. Entry-level courses include:

    1. Anthropology 1600: Introduction to Social Anthropology

    2. Foreign Cultures 74: Cultures of Southern Europe

    3. Foreign Cultures 85: West African Cultures

    4. Social Analysis 28: Culture, Illness and Healing: Introduction to Medical Anthropology

  2. Three additional half-courses in Anthropology, one of which may be substituted with a half-course in another department with prior approval of the Secondary Field Adviser. Relevant courses include:

    1. Anthropology 1605: Law and Anthropology

    2. Anthropology 1615: Anthropology and Human Rights

    3. Anthropology 1618: Human Rights: Themes at the Intersection of Anthropology and Law

    4. Anthropology 1635: Human Rights and Social Justice

    5. Anthropology 1655: Politics of Nature

    6. Anthropology 1710: Memory Politics: Truth, Justice, Redress

    7. Anthropology 1732: Social Movements: Popular Mobilization and Politics

    8. Anthropology 1750: Syncretism

    9. Anthropology 1760: Nationalism and Bureaucracy

    10. Anthropology 1790: Violence in the Andes: Coca, Conflict and Control

    11. Anthropology 1795: The Politics of Language and Identity in Latin America

    12. Anthropology 1820: Japan in the Ethnographic Gaze

    13. Anthropology 1830: Social Suffering

    14. Anthropology 1940: Comparative Liberation Theologies

    15. Anthropology 1860: Colonial Departures

    16. Anthropology 1980: Anthropology at Home: War and the US

    17. Anthropology 2640: Interventions: Ethics, Logics, Intentions

Each pathway consists of four half-courses, including one introductory level course. Students are encouraged, though not required, to take a junior tutorial (Anthropology 98z), a small discussion-based tutorial in which they work intensively on writing and analytical skills, as a "capstone" of their study of Social Anthropology.