The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era

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9780520234963: The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era

Micheline Ishay recounts the dramatic struggle for human rights across the ages in a book that brilliantly synthesizes historical and intellectual developments from the Mesopotamian Codes of Hammurabi to today's era of globalization. As she chronicles the clash of social movements, ideas, and armies that have played a part in this struggle, Ishay illustrates how the history of human rights has evolved from one era to the next through texts, cultural traditions, and creative expression. Writing with verve and extraordinary range, she develops a framework for understanding contemporary issues from the debate over globalization to the intervention in Kosovo to the climate for human rights after September 11, 2001. The only comprehensive history of human rights available, the book will be essential reading for anyone concerned with humankind's quest for justice and dignity.

Ishay structures her chapters around six core questions that have shaped human rights debate and scholarship: What are the origins of human rights? Why did the European vision of human rights triumph over those of other civilizations? Has socialism made a lasting contribution to the legacy of human rights? Are human rights universal or culturally bound? Must human rights be sacrificed to the demands of national security? Is globalization eroding or advancing human rights? As she explores these questions, Ishay also incorporates notable documents—writings, speeches, and political statements—from activists, writers, and thinkers throughout history.

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From the Inside Flap:

"A definitive account of the history of human rights told from the perspective of those struggling to obtain them. Using the Enlightenment, industrialization, war, national self-determination, and globalization as lenses through which to look at their evolution, Ishay brings both historical context and conceptual acuity to modern debates about the role of human rights in a multicultural world. Her encompassing and compassionate approach issues in a book equally valuable to scholars, students, and citizens."—Benjamin Barber, University of Maryland, author of Jihad vs. McWorld

"This well-written book, chock-full of knowledge, presents a history of the idea, or ideas, of human rights through the prism of the author's thoughtful views on key controversies that bedevil human rights discourse to this day."—Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair, University of Essex Human Rights Centre; Member, (UN) Human Rights Committee

"The first account of human rights as embedded in the history of political theory, relating it to the basic issues of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Erudite and non-dogmatic, Ishay reaches beyond individual human rights to issues of economic, cultural and national rights, and shows how the campaign for human rights was instrumental in bringing down oppressive regimes in the last decades... Humane and generous in its approach, brilliant in its conception and presentation."—Shlomo Avineri, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

About the Author:

Micheline R. Ishay is Professor and Director of the International Human Rights Program at the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She is the author of Internationalism and Its Betrayal (1995), editor of The Human Rights Reader: Major Speeches, Essays, and Documents from the Bible to the Present (1997), and coeditor of The Nationalism Reader (1995).

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Ishay, Micheline
Published by University of California Press (2004)
ISBN 10: 0520234960 ISBN 13: 9780520234963
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