Geographies of Human Rights Practices

Authors: Morten Andersen*, Danish Institute Against Torture
Topics: Human Rights, Legal Geography
Keywords: human rights, human rights work, documentation, knowledge production, translation, translocation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Forum Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores geographies of human right practices as local, national and international spatial relationships. Human rights, on the one hand, have been conceptualised and analysed as an ‘invading’ discourse of policies and practices that flows from the global north, over the world on notions and ideals of good politics, good governance and good societies etc. – the democratic state. On the other, human rights have been analysed as a cross-cultural/societal translocation of techniques and technical practices, contextually translated into conditioned situations of insufficiencies, needs, lackings as well as change, improvement and development. However, both approaches address human rights through its conceptual framing and inherent limited realisations, which somehow overlook human rights as mundane and every day practices.
I suggest a complementary analysis of how practices associated to human rights are linked empirically, and how they effects issues of social and political development through is geographical translocation and translation. From violent exposure, to identification, over documentation and packaging, to national and international arenas of human rights work e.g. from rural Sri Lanka, over urban Colombo, to Geneva. This not just involves a move from legal notions to social practices and a focus on the situated contestation of authority in the administration of law and conflict mediation, but also highlights the call for spatial analysis of human rights practices of documentation and knowledges.
The paper is based on human rights case work in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt and Kenya.

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