Critical geographies of human rights and the spatial dimensions of international law violations in Rakhine State, Myanmar

Authors: Jean Carmalt*, CUNY - Graduate Center
Topics: Human Rights, Legal Geography
Keywords: human rights, critical geography, Myanmar
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Forum Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The term “critical geographies of human rights” refers to the idea that law, society, geography, and injustice are mutually constitutive. This article proposes one possible theoretical framework for analyzing the relationship between human rights and geography, drawing from scholarship in critical human geography, socio-legal studies, and public international law. The article uses a case study regarding the Rohingya population of Myanmar to analyze how this theoretical approach works in practice, asking how narratives about the term “Rohingya” are built into, and reinforced by, legal definitions of belonging, exclusion, and citizenship. It argues that the situation of the Rohingya illustrates the international legal dimensions of material injustice while simultaneously showing how human rights discourse is part of ongoing geopolitical dynamics. Examining the situation of the Rohingya thus provides a way to understand how critical geographies of human rights can used to analyze the relationship between law, geography, and injustice.

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