Year 1: Human Rights, Citizenship, Racialized Belonging

Humanitarianism and human rights have emerged as a dominant political paradigm for global politics, both providing a basis for transnational solidarity movements and a discourse for legitimizing military interventions by nation-states and multinational coalitions that challenge national sovereignty. Humanitarianism and human rights have provided a language for crossing borders that is often based on a racialized definition of humans who deserve rights and regions in need of rescue. Border crossers who are not covered by these definitions are often categorized as “illegal.” We will explore the ways in which humanitarianism has come to replace older languages and frameworks of internationalism, and what the implications of these developments are for groups attempting to use human rights as a legible language for political recognition and redress, while also looking at what categories of migrants remain outside of these rubrics. How does rights-talk shift as it travels across regional borders and political movements? Which groups are able to harness the efficacy of international human rights as a political tool, and which movements deploy alternative languages for social protest and global justice?