Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights: Statelessness, Images, Violence

Newman, Saul and Lechte, John. 2013. Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights: Statelessness, Images, Violence. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0748645725 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

Human rights today have become the meta-narrative of globalisation. However, the most casual glance reveals a world in which human rights are violated on an unprecedented scale, often by the very sovereign states who claim to promote them. This is no coincidence, according to Giorgio Agamben, who argues that despite the claims of NGOs, international legal scholars, global ethicists and governments, human rights today do not protect us from the excesses of state power, but, on the contrary, are a sign of our growing powerlessness and political alienation in the face of a sovereign state of exception that has become global. In this book, we take Agamben’s critique as our starting point and reveal the paradoxes central to the politics of human rights by exploring questions of statelessness, exclusion, the violence of securitization and the visual representation of refugees and illegal migrants in the media. Here we propose a radical rethinking of human rights. Human rights must be disengaged from humanitarianism, biopolitics, sovereignty and the society of the spectacle - they must become genuinely political.

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May 2013

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Date Deposited:

13 Jan 2012 13:57

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30 Jun 2017 12:21


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