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Course 1105: Researching Human Rights: Concepts, Methods, Applications

Dates: March 10-11; 24-25; April 14-15, 10am to 5pm;   

Mode: Intensive Workshops

Human Rights is the idea of 20th century. Probably there are very few other concepts that shaped the intellectual as well as institutional histories of our times as human rights did, and has been doing, since the beginning of 20th century. The enormous growth in the institutional and legal frameworks and standard setting processes, huge volumes of court litigation at the local, national and international levels, and the social movement action process before and after these settings created a vast archive of action and reflection that sustained academic programmes in many a western university for the last few decades. In India, over the last 15 years there have been concerted efforts in ‘teaching’ human rights in the universities. Though not yet sufficiently curricularised, except in a quantitative way (there are many universities, colleges and law schools now teaching human rights as a subject), human rights as a theme has gained currency over the last few decades. A critical problem in ‘teaching’ human rights in India is lack of teachable ‘local’ materials. An important source of that vacuum is lack of serious research in the field. Though human rights has widespread currency in the social context, exploring its uses, meaning and potential in the life of Indian democracy is still a long way to go. This course is an attempt at creating an appetiser towards that task!

The course will be taught in intensive workshops mode. There will be three week-end workshops spread over 6 weeks beginning 10th of March 2012. The workshops require serious reading and active participation from all the course participants. The materials will be provided in advance in digital form. The course will have a series of shorter assignments in lieu of a term paper. 


March 10-11: Concepts: Interrogating the foundations


1.    Before and after human rights: Understanding the ‘human’, the ‘rights’ , and the Post-human

2.     Universals in the era of diversity: Dignity, Duty, Equality, Liberty, Obligation, Reason, Responsibility,    Relativity

3.     Debates on the normative and the performative in relation to human rights


March 24-25: Methods: Exploring into the Changing Rules of ‘Reliable Knowledge’


1.      Debating ‘reliable’ knowledge: Politics of ‘evidence’ after Truth

2.      Measuring Rights: Contours of Empirical Research in Human Rights

3.     Ethnographies of Rights: Law and Anthropology as resources of understanding human rights

4.     A Politics for Human Rights:  the Emerging field of Comparative Constitutionalism

5.     ‘Human’ or ‘Bio’ or ‘Eco’ Rights?: Methodological debates on ‘human rights’ in relation to the non-humans (animals, plants, environment, and the post-human)


April 14-15: Applications: Making Sense of Human Rights in Everyday Life


1.      Science, Technology and Human Rights

          a.     Bio-technology

          b.     Digital Technologies

          c.      Robotics and Hyper-automation


2.      Universal Human Rights in a Diverse World:

          a.     Constitutional Values/Morality in an era of Pluriculturalism

          b.     The Diversity of Dignity and the Dignity of Diversity


3.     Social Rights and Neo-liberal World Order


4.     Reflecting on the Three Workshops


Course 1105: Researching Human Rights: Concepts, Methods, Applications

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