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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Human Rights, Human Wrongs

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG83
Section 001
Instructor Vasuki Nesiah
Days TR
Time 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


This course will provide an introduction to the different ways people have debated human rights claims, and the class will collectively explore and analyze the stakes of these debates. We will work through a series of human rights cases and campaigns regarding torture, labor and sexuality to look at different examples of human rights engagements and how these constitute particular notions of 'the human'. What kind of global subject is constituted in human rights engagements? What is the politics of that subject? How does humanity have to be organized, legalized and historicized for the human to be endowed with rights? We will explore these and other questions through the work of scholars, lawyers and activists. This course is neither a celebration of human rights, or a training ground for human rights activists. Rather, it invites us to take a step back to consider debates internal to invocations of right claims to better understand what the human rights framework renders visible and what it casts in shadows. Readings will be wide ranging and extend from John Locke to Karl Marx, Saidya Hartman to Samera Esmeir. We will also read and analyze international human rights instruments and draw on case studies from the US, South Africa, France, India, Kenya, Chile and elsewhere.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)