Call for Papers: The Power of Rights and/or the Rights of Power in Global Politics

Call for Papers for the 1st European Workshops for International Studies (EWIS), 5th – 8th June 2013, Tartu (

Workshop 12: The Power of Rights and/or the Rights of Power in Global Politics

Conveners: Louiza Odysseos and Anna Selmeczi

While detractors of human rights have long argued that they form the moral and intellectual keystone of a liberal hegemony, their proponents have countered that ‘human rights are meant to be good news for the underprivileged, the downtrodden, and the dispossessed’ (Dallmayr), historically demarcating the growing power of the king and, later, the state and today enabling the politics of resistance in symbolic, discursive and legal terms. This proposed workshop seeks to combine theoretical discussions and empirical examinations to explore how human rights are essential to both the sustenance of hegemony and to the politics of resistance in global politics. The workshop will examine how human rights instruments and discourses aim to curtail power while often legitimating and reinforcing its operations in distinct political and ethical ways. It will facilitate discussions exploring how rights ‘enable disciplinary projects’ (Golder) by channeling practices of resistance into legal frameworks that delimit campaigns for justice. Central to its objectives is to assess how human rights also provide opportunities for challenging such projects of power, opportunities that are grounded on a rethinking of humanity as the ‘community of the governed’ understood within the history of colonialism.

A number of scholars have expressed interest in interrogating this important dualism of human rights. The workshop therefore would generate discussions about the emergence of human rights’ subjectivities and discourses within struggles towards emancipation that have had varying success in challenging preexisting power relations, for example, in the recent waves of protest in the Middle East. Other potential contributions would analyse how neoliberal technologies of governing use the discourses of human worth to discipline human rights in cases of immigration; how the tension between human and positive rights incites resistance practices by political subjects in the case of undocumented migrants; how, in varied geographical locations such as India, South Africa, Italy and Mexico, neoliberal governmental rationalities deny the subjectivity of the rights-bearing citizen to the poor; how direct action by activists seeks to reconstruct particular rights as strategies of resistance, such as the right to housing in the midst of the global financial crisis.

Please submit your 200 words abstract online through the EWIS website:

Deadline: 15 December 2012. Applicants will be notified by 15 January 2013 about the outcome of the selection process.


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