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Critical Approaches to Human Rights. June 16, 2020. (Lead student: Aastha Prasad)
Zigon, J., 2013. Human Rights as Moral Progress? A Critique. Cultural Anthropology, 28: 716-736. doi:10.1111/cuan.12034
"Human rights has become the moral language that grounds both the political status quo and the politics that claims to oppose this status quo” (Zigon 2013: 717). Stemming from the context of harm reduction in Russia, this text takes a critical approach to the construction of a “fantasy of progress” by Human Rights discourses. This discussion aims to engage with Zigon’s text to unravel some of the propositions of Human Rights by raising the following questions — Is ‘progress’ central to Human Rights? What is gained or lost from moral and political discourses by using the legal language of Rights? What are the implications of ‘juridification’? In considering the tensions between Rights, culture and their power relations, can we view Human Rights as ‘culture’?