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Hamzić, Vanja (2019) On Freedom beyond the Liberal Paradigm: Reading Ratna Kapur’s Gender, Alterity and Human Rights. In: Author Meets Reader Session, Law and Society Association Annual Conference, May 2019, Washington, DC, USA. (Unpublished)

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Here comes, at long last, a book on human rights that clears the way for going forward outside the self-centred, self-referential and self-sufficient circle of human rights scholarship—an academic genre that, even at its most critical, always already re-reifies the liberal paradigm centred on the rights bearer. Ratna Kapur’s Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl (London: Edward Elgar, 2018) is a brave, deeply intimate portrait of no longer an imagined universal rights bearer or rights collector, whose ‘good life’ can be realised once it has found as many ‘individual and inalienable’ rights along the way as possible, but that of the freedom seeker, inquisitive about the worlds interior as much as those exterior. The book is a daring piece of scholarship because—after many critical projects of pluralising, particularising and intersecting the imagined rights bearer, so as to make it more akin to the diverse worlds in which it intervened—Ratna’s analysis finally allows this exemplary subject-position to exit the liberal paradigm altogether, and thus enter the ostensible terra incognita of what she calls the ‘non-liberal’ space (p. 4). And, it is in this space, beyond liberal reason and point of reference, that the bearer will only truly become a seeker, whose road to selfhood is no longer bound by an episteme of the self so firmly anchored in Western liberalism’s own historical and philosophical trajectories.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: School Research Centres > Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law
Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2020 12:50

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