Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

Leave a comment

Human Rights: Old and / or New?

By Roland Burke

La Trobe University, School of Historical & European Studies

The search for the origin(s) of human rights is a pursuit that has attracted much scholarship, historical, legal, philosophical, and anthropological.  In the past decade, finding human rights – and their precursors – has seen the emergence of some highly impressive histories.  It has also, more recently, seen the emergence of a sharp historiographical clash.

While Paul Gordon Lauren’s Evolution of International Human Rights (2003) and Lynn Hunt’s Inventing Human Rights (2007) cast their glance back centuries to ‘find’ human rights, Samuel Moyn (The Last Utopia, 2010) casts his gaze back to find not rights, but their absence.  Continue reading