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Theoretical Approaches to the Human Rights of Marginalized and Excluded Individuals or Groups – Part IV: A Short Critique of Vulnerability

Author: Veronika Flegar

This is the final blog post in a series of four. In this series I seek to highlight some of the underlying assumptions of four concepts or approaches that are commonly employed to further the human rights of excluded or marginalized individuals or groups. The last three blog posts dealt with human dignity, the capabilities approach and intersectionality. This blog post will cover the notion of vulnerability. Since this is the last blog post in this series I aim to relate the notion of vulnerability to the three earlier discussed ideas and point to what the notion can or cannot add in light of the pitfalls of the other ideas. (more…)

Theoretical Approaches to the Human Rights of Marginalized and Excluded Individuals or Groups – Part III: A Short Critique of Intersectionality

Author: Veronika Flegar

This is the third blog post in a series of four in which I aim to highlight some of the underlying assumptions of concepts and approaches which are commonly employed to further the human rights of excluded or marginalized individuals or groups. The last two blog posts dealt with human dignity and the capabilities approach. This blog post will cover intersectionality before the last blog post will deal with the notion of vulnerability. (more…)

Theoretical Approaches to the Human Rights of Marginalized and Excluded Individuals or Groups – Part II: A Short Critique of the Capabilities Approach

Author: Veronika Flegar

This blog post is the second in a series of four in which I aim to disentangle some of the underlying assumptions of contemporary concepts and approaches that can be employed for justifying or engaging with the international human rights law framework. The previous post dealt with human dignity and found that at least one criticism of human dignity is not easily resolved, namely its inherent focus on the autonomy and freedom of rational human beings. It was argued that this insufficiently accounts for the situation of persons who are marginalized and do not easily fit within this mainstream liberal view of humans as rational actors. The present blog post will deal with the capabilities approach which tries to mitigate some of these aspects.[1] Yet, as this blog post shows, authors remain in dispute as to whether the capabilities approach sufficiently succeeds in doing so. The two subsequent blog posts of this series will then deal with intersectionality and, lastly, the notion of vulnerability.

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Theoretical Approaches to the Human Rights of Marginalized and Excluded Individuals or Groups – Part I: A Short Critique of Human Dignity

Author: Veronika Flegar

In an earlier post on this blog Paul van Trigt pointed to the frequent neglect of viewing human rights in their larger historical context. This is not only true for historians but, arguably, even more so for human rights lawyers. Due to this neglect, human rights lawyers seem to sometimes suffer a bias towards the salience of human rights and seem to be primarily preoccupied with the interpretation of international treaties and case law. Such interpretations often neglect to question the human rights system or its underlying assumptions as such. Yet, a more critical approach towards the central ideas of international human rights law seems necessary in order to build a sustainable system that is to the benefit of all human beings – including persons or groups who are commonly marginalized or excluded.

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Ongevraagde vondsten

Author: Anaïs van Ertvelde

Iek! Ik kan een kreetje niet onderdrukken wanneer het me overkomt, vaak na dagen vruchteloos ploeteren. Senioren die hun familiestamboom zitten uit te pluizen kijken licht geërgerd op. In archieven wordt doorgaans gezwegen. Frivole uitroepen van arbeidsvreugde zijn ze er niet gewend. Een historisch vondstje brengt me nu eenmaal een kinderlijk gevoel van bevrediging. Lang gehouden vermoedens die plots bevestigd of weerlegd worden door een weggegooide zin, ergens aan het einde van het vergeelde verslag van een kabinetsvergadering. Noem me sentimenteel, verwijt me een hang naar het ambachtelijke, maar ik ben zo één van die historici die graag in een archief zit. Iemand die liever hanepoten in notitieboeken krabbelt dan praktisch op een laptop typt. Lettertypes die al decennia niet meer in zwang zijn, maagdelijke bundeltjes die je voor de eerste keer losstrikt. Het is niet alleen charmant – charmanter dan een ingescande tekst door een pdf-zoeker draaien. Het is ook allemaal context, die je iets vertelt over de inhoud van wat je aan het lezen bent. Als historici iets kunnen doen, is het wel context bieden.

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Disability, development and humanitarianism: the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy

Author: Sam de Schutter

Today “the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war”, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs recently declared. This statement shows that humanitarianism is very much alive today, but that it apparently also has a history. But why am I writing about that on a blog related to the history of disability? That is because I participated in the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA), organized by the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the University of Exeter, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Over the span of two weeks in July, spent both in Mainz and Geneva, this event brought together thirteen scholars from all over the world working on issues related to humanitarianism, international humanitarian law and human rights. I was lucky to be one of them, and got inspired to write this short blog about it.

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‘A Right to Live Where They’re at Home’: Identity, Nation-Building and the International Year of Disabled Persons 1981 in Greenland

Author: Anna Derksen

Vision of inclusion: aasivik ‘81

In the summer of 1981, fifteen disabled Greenlanders went aboard the M/S Disko, travelling along the rugged coastline of West Greenland to the abandoned village of Illorpaat about 425km north of the polar circle. Their destination was the annual aasivik, originally an Inuit summer gathering on plentiful hunting grounds. Since 1976, the tradition had been resurrected as a music festival and discussion forum for political, social and cultural issues closely linked to Greenlandic identity and independence. (more…)

A new take on human rights history? Investigating the United Nations’ Observances

Author: Paul van Trigt

In a recent debate about human rights historiography Lynn Hunt points to the presumption of leading scholars in the field that ‘the history of human rights must be first and foremost a political history in the most old-fashioned sense, that is, a history of diplomacy (covenants) and warfare (interventions).’ Therefore she emphasizes the relevance of the writing of ‘a social history of internationalism that is attentive to the role of women and non-Westerners’.[1]

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Window, Mirror, Meeting Place – Part II: An evening at the Leuven Disability Film Festival

Author: Anaïs van Ertvelde

The hallways of the Leuven provincial house are more lively than usual after dark. Scattered groups of people, most of them rather youthful, only a handful of them visibly disabled, are trying to find their way to the auditorium where one of the screenings of the 2017 edition of the Leuven Disability Film Festival, with the theme Bodies and Minds, will soon begin. Among them is Pieter Verstraete, professor of history of education at the research unit education, culture and society (KU Leuven, Belgium), who has been co-organizing the Leuven Disability Film Festival since 2011. I talk to him about the origins of the Leuven festival:

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Window, Mirror, Meeting Place – Part I: A very short history of disability film festivals

Author: Anaïs van Ertvelde

Film festivals are a core site of disability culture labor’, Petra Kuppers posits in her 2014 publication Studying Disability Arts and Culture. The disability culture activist, performance artist and professor at the University of Michigan goes on to point out that the increased accessibility of recording devices has made it easier than ever before for minority groups to take representation into their own hands. Technological possibilities – video cameras on every smartphone, online communities pooling resources and facilitating distribution – are opening up new ways of representing, sharing and educating through cinematic means. (more…)