Skip Main Navigation
Page Content

Save This Event

Event Saved

International Human Rights and Freedom: Possibilities, Epistemologies, Legacies and Alternatives

QM School of Law

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 13:00 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 14:00 (GMT)

Ticket Information

Type End Quantity
General Registration 1 Nov 2017 Free  

Share International Human Rights and Freedom: Possibilities, Epistemologies, Legacies and Alternatives

Event Details

Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC)

Organizers: Ratna Kapur, Isobel Roele, Louise Wise in collaboration with
the International State Crime Initiative and the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context, QMUL

About the workshop:

We are delighted to present a two-day workshop that examines critiques of human rights and looks at possible alternative routes to emancipation and progressive politics. We warmly invite interested scholars at all stages in their career and from any discipline to join us.

Extensive critiques of International human rights (IHR) by critical legal scholars - especially feminists and postcolonial theorists – have called into question its worth as a path to human freedom and progressive politics. As a facet of liberal freedom and justice at the global level, human rights have been discredited as part of an Enlightenment project that is neither inclusive nor non-violent and which compels a specific way to be and be free in the world. Encounters with the world’s `Others’  - particularly well-meaning missions to save them - expose the gender, cultural, racial and religious norms on which rescue projects are based and the discomfort caused by these encounters often ends in epistemicide (de Santos) – the destruction of non-liberal/alternate epistemologies.

From this starting point, the workshop seeks to start four conversations. The first interrogates our own assumptions; are the possibilities of human rights really exhausted as a path to freedom? The second grapples with the violence of Enlightenment epistemologies. The third panel draws historical work on the colonial past of human rights into the present moment by thinking about its legacy. The final panel attempts to move beyond the liberal imaginary to rethink freedom - if human rights are not the key to human freedom, what is?

The workshop brings together a host of academics from a range of social science and humanities backgrounds. In taking human rights and freedom as our subject matter at a time of deep suspicion of others in the West, we seek to contribute to a broader conversation about critique and what lies beyond it.

Each panel will feature dialogues between provocateurs and interlocutors and we hope these will spill over into wider discussions. We therefore encourage audience members to arrive ready to actively engage with the provocations they will hear and to be part of our conversations. There will be refreshments and a wine reception to lubricate discussion, so please make sure you register so we have enough to go around!


Tuesday 31st October


2:00-3:30 p.m. Rights and the Productive Possibilities of Critique

This first panel sets the scene of the workshop. We aim to explore the question of whether human rights are constitutionally unequal to the task of furthering human freedom, or just contingently so. In particular, the panel explores the emancipatory potential of human rights critique and of critiques of human rights. Possible points of focus include human rights and the death of the subject, the care of the self, human creativity and natality and plurality and political discourse.

Chair: Penny Green

Provocateur: Ben Golder 

Discussant: Kathryn Medien 

Provocateur: Kate Nash (Goldsmiths) 

Discussant: Isobel Roele

3:30-3:45 p.m. : Coffee/Tea break

3:45- 5:15 p.m. Epistemologies and Violence

This panel will address the violence that sits at the epistemic core of the Enlightenment project. It will ask how forms of epistemic dominance underpin and obscure violence, and how imperial rationalities continue shape the way we perceive violence and the meanings we attach to it. It will explore the implications and possibilities of heterogeneous ways of knowing the historical and contemporary violence of our world.

Chair: Robbie Shilliam

Provocateur: Gurminder Bhambra 

(proposal: Epistemological Justice and Reparation: Critical Theory for a Global Age)

Interlocutor: Vasuki Nesiah 

Provocateur: Alexander Hinton 

Interlocutor: Stewart Motha 

5.15-7pm Wine Reception

7.30 - Dinner for participants



Weds 1st November

9.30 onwards - coffee

10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Imperial Legacies

This panel will confront the deep entanglements between the colonial past and present, and the challenge of locating ourselves within this present. Foregrounding the importance of race and racialization as fundamental structuring logics of past and present global orders – and our ways of knowing and acting in these orders – it will engage with the too often obscured histories of empire, colonialism, and imperialism, and ask how we should approach the imperative of decolonisation.

Chair: Gurminder Bhambra

Provocateur: Robbie Shilliam

Interlocutor: Louise Wise

Provocateur: Chris Moffat 

Interlocutor: Rose Sydney Parfitt 

11:30 – 11:45 tea/coffee break

11:45 – 1:15 Non-liberal/Alternative Registers of Freedom

This panel takes on the challenge of presenting understandings of freedom that move beyond the critique and the liberal imaginary. The panelists push back against the liberal imaginary and address several concerns that remain in the wake of critique: Does critique leaves us at an epistemic abyss? How do we pursue the ideal of freedom once hope in the liberal imaginary fades? What other epistemological/ontological tools are available that dislodge liberal freedom as the default position?

Chair: Vasuki Nesiah

Provocateur: Ratna Kapur

Interlocutor: Ben Golder

Provocateur: Vanja Hamzic

Interlocutor: Rolando Vazquez 

1.15-2pm Lunch

Do you have questions about International Human Rights and Freedom: Possibilities, Epistemologies, Legacies and Alternatives? Contact QM School of Law

Save This Event

Event Saved

When & Where


Queen Mary University of London
E1 4NS Mile End Road
United Kingdom

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 13:00 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 14:00 (GMT)

  Add to my calendar
International Human Rights and Freedom: Possibilities, Epistemologies, Legacies and Alternatives
Things to do in Mile End Road Seminar Government

Interested in hosting your own event?

Join millions of people on Eventbrite.

Please log in or sign up

In order to purchase these tickets in installments, you'll need an Eventbrite account. Log in or sign up for a free account to continue.