What is the relationship between human rights and social justice? Do both always operate in conjunction? Are they ever mutually exclusive—one sacrificed at the expense of the other? This course explores key questions around the theory and practice of human rights promotion, surveying specialized literature and founding documents to consider the promise and challenge of existing human rights frameworks as they work for, but sometimes clash with, the promotion of social justice. We ask, are there universal rights? If so, how are these defined, and by whom? What is the relationship between "political" and "human" rights, between individual and collective rights? Can human rights be in conflict, and if so, how are such conflicts to be resolved? In regions rife with inequality—political, social, and economic—is promoting a global human rights agenda unrealistic, or more necessary than ever? After exploring these general questions, we will focus on Latin America, in particular on Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and Mexico. How do human rights struggles in these countries change our view of the prevailing human rights regime? How do legacies of colonialism in these countries affect both the protection and violation of human rights in the present? Do these countries reveal a political tension between social justice and human rights? Readings will draw from Bartolomé de las Casas, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum, Ariel Dorfman, Paul Farmer, and Greg Grandin, among others.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)