Talking of Human Rights: Histories, Heritages, and Human Remains

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Talking of Human Rights: Histories, Heritages, and Human Remains

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Reviews in Anthropology


Meskell, Lynn

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Taylor & Francis Online




Abstract: While the rhetoric of human rights is now globally pervasive, the reality of rights implementation patently lags behind and violations continue to escalate worldwide. An examination of recent books demonstrates that rights talk occupies an increasingly central place in all subfields of anthropology. Problematically, anthropologists are excessively invoking “human rights” to imply a higher order of magnitude for the cases they study than if those cases were framed in terms of other rights and claims. Labeling everything a fundamental human right is detrimental to both ethics and accuracy, especially in the face of acknowledged differences in cultural and historical contexts.

Additional tags: human rights; academic discourse and rhetoric; heritage issues


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