Limited Tools for Emancipation? Human Rights and Border Abolition

Perolini, Marco. 2023. Limited Tools for Emancipation? Human Rights and Border Abolition. Sociology, ISSN 0038-0385 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Human rights often fall short of challenging oppression because they are enmeshed with conservative institutions, such as the law and the state. Despite these shortcomings, grassroots organisations contesting border regimes in Berlin often make use of human rights in their everyday mobilisation. They engage in autonomous forms of mobilisation outside the state and construct non-legal notions of human rights that are emancipatory for racialised migrants. However, these same organisations also address demands to state authorities by using legal notions of human rights. In this article, I draw on the framework focusing on abolition and non-reformist reforms, which have been developed by activists and scholars in their resistance to policing and the Prison-Industrial Complex. I innovatively extend its use to propose a nuanced understanding of grassroots approaches to human rights. Specifically, I argue that these approaches entail the concurrent pursuit of short-term reformist reforms and border abolition.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


abolition, border regimes, emancipation, human rights, non-reformist reforms, social movements

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy


13 April 2023Accepted
13 July 2023Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Aug 2023 08:56

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2023 09:01

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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