Course No.

SST 250


Theories and Practices of Human Rights


Amy Ansell / Thomas Keenan

The course will be held at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. This is an intensive interdisciplinary course in the theories and practices of human rights. The course seeks to promote a critical understanding of human rights as part of a broad intellectual and social movement, not simply a code or set of laws but a discourse in transformation and often in contest, extending into the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences. The course begins with a common core of questions about human rights, at once historical and comparative, with special attention to the interaction of global forces and local dynamics, and centered on relations of power, productions of meaning, and formations of identity. Topics include: human rights documents and institutions, cultural dynamics, strategies of inclusion and exclusion, the role of the state, humanitarianism and intervention, and social and economic rights in an age of globalization. Students then select two of four elective concentrations, which aim to focus and deepen their engagement with human rights practice and theory, choosing from: economics and development, democracy and governance, culture and media, identity and difference. In addition to lectures and seminar discussions, students work closely with local institutions, including international, national media, and non-governmental organizations, in a closely -supervised research practicum. Students spend 18 hours each week in classroom discussions, lectures, and fieldwork, over the course of four weeks, with total hours equivalent to a semester-long course (4 credits). Students and faculty are drawn from a consortium of 14 Southern African universities and U.S. liberal arts colleges. Limited to 5 Bard students by prior application. Contact Prof. Thomas Keenan or Prof. Amy Ansell.