10 de outubro de 2018, 17h00 — Sala 2, CES | Alta (Coimbra)


Kiran Grewal (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

While many have critiqued the elitist, exclusionary and often neo-colonial ways in which the human rights system operates, the reality is that many different groups and individuals around the world still draw on the language and framework of human rights in their struggles for social justice. How are we to account for this? Is it a naïve belief in the promises made by human rights? Is it simply because human rights is now the ‘only game in town’, the perfect handmaiden to neo-liberal capital? Is it desperation; an appeal to this ‘last utopia’ that has displaced other more revolutionary emancipatory projects and settled for a reformist agenda? In this paper I want to present another possibility: one that I believe is not only empirically true but also has important political and epistemological implications.

I will argue that while many of the critiques of human rights are correct, there is also another life of human rights that is largely unaccounted for by both advocates and critics. This is a life beyond the logics and practices of elite legal actors and institutions, in which ordinary people – including those most marginalised – make use of the language of human rights to support their struggles for social justice. Whether through the invoking of rights to support alternate social imaginaries, the re/misinterpretation of legal principles to suit local causes or the use of legal arenas as spaces to assert their voices, the engagement with human rights by marginalised and disempowered peoples is a far from unilinear process. It is also not solely the domain of experts or elites.


Nota biográfica

Kiran Grewal is a reader in sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Kiran has worked as a scholar, practitioner and activist in the field of human rights for the last fifteen years. Her areas of specialisation are women’s rights, torture and post-conflict justice processes. Most recently she has been working with different groups in the north and east of Sri Lanka struggling for social justice. She is the author of two books: The Socio-Political Practice of Human Rights (Routledge 2016) and Racialised Gang Rape and the Reinforcement of Dominant Order: Discourses of Gender, Race and Nation (Routledge 2017).


Coorganização do projeto (DE)OTHERING [FCT], do Inter-thematic Group on Migrations (ITM) e dos programas de doutoramento em Estudos Feministas e International Politics and Conflict Resolution.