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Studying Human Rights in the Middle East: Lingua Franca of Global Politics or Forked Tongue of Donors?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 April 2016

Lori Allen
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; e-mail: la22@soas.ac.uk
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Extract

The study of human rights has gone through many phases, and the boom in the scholarly industry of human rights studies has yielded many subspecialties, including human rights in particular regions and the intersections of human rights with different religious traditions. One principal area of discussion likely to be of interest to readers of this journal has been the question of Muslim women's human rights and the role of religion in this respect. The problem was often presented as primarily an ideological one, a conflict between a local tradition, Islam, and the global demands for human rights.

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Roundtable
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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References

1 al-Hibri, Azizah, “Islam, Law and Custom: Redefining Muslim Women's Rights,” American University Journal of International Law and Policy 12 (1997): 1-44Google Scholar; An-Naʿim, Abdullahi A., Muslims and Global Justice (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010)Google Scholar.

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6 John Milbank, “Christian Human Rights: Samuel Moyn and the History of Natural Rights,” The Immanent Frame, accessed 16 December 2015, http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2015/07/06/samuel-moyn-and-the-history-of-natural-right/; Costas Douzinas, “Seven Theses on Human Rights: (1) The Idea of Humanity,” Critical Legal Thinking, accessed 16 December 2015, http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/05/16/seven-theses-on-human-rights-1-the-idea-of-humanity/.

7 Allen, Lori, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2013)Google Scholar; Feldman, Ilana, “Difficult Distinctions: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza,” Cultural Anthropology 22 (2007): 129–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Osanloo, Arzoo, “The Measure of Mercy: Islamic Justice, Sovereign Power, and Human Rights in Iran,” Cultural Anthropology 21 (2006): 570602CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Slyomovics, Susan, The Performance of Human Rights in Morocco (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005)Google Scholar.

8 Cowan, Jane and Billaud, Julie, “Between Learning and Schooling: The Politics of Human Rights Monitoring at the Universal Periodic Review,” Third World Quarterly 36 (2015): 1175–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Kelly, Tobias, “Politics of Shame: The Bureaucratisation of International Human Rights Monitoring,” in The Gloss of Harmony: The Politics of Policy Making in International Organizations, ed. Muller, Birgit (London: Pluto Press, 2012), 134–53Google Scholar.

9 Hopgood, Stephen’s history of Amnesty International, Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2006)Google Scholar, is an exception. Dezalay, Yves and Garth, Bryant examine Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists in “From the Cold War to Kosovo: The Rise and Renewal of the Field of International Human Rights,” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 2 (2006): 231–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In the Palestinian context, several scholars have written about Al Haq, the first Palestinian human rights organization, but not, as far as I am aware, about any other of the influential human rights organizations. See Lori Allen, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights, chap. 1 and 2; Azzam, Fatih Samih, “Waiting for Justice: Al-Haq in 2004: A Twenty Five Year Prospective,” in Al-Haq: 25 Years Defending Human Rights (1979–2004), ed. Al-Salem, Rouba (Ramallah: Al-Haq, 2005)Google Scholar; Hiltermann, Joost, “Al-Haq: The First Twenty Years,” MERIP 214 (2000): 4244Google Scholar; and Rabbani, Mouin, “Palestinian Human Rights Activism under Israeli Occupation: The Case of Al-Haq,” Arab Studies Quarterly 16 (1994): 2752Google Scholar.

10 Nader, Laura, “Up the Anthropologist: Perspectives Gained from Studying Up,” in Reinventing Anthropology, ed. Hymes, Dell H. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972), 284311Google Scholar.

11 For this kind of analysis, see Carapico, Sheila, Political Aid and Arab Activism: Democracy Promotion, Justice, and Representation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)Google Scholar; Wildeman, Jeremy and Tartir, Alaa, “Unwilling to Change, Determined to Fail: Donor Aid in Occupied Palestine in the Aftermath of the Arab Uprisings,” Mediterranean Politics 19 (2014): 431–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Martinez, Jenny, “Human Rights and History,” response to “Does the Past Matter? On the Origins of Human Rights,” by Philip Alston, Harvard Law Review Forum 126 (2013): 221Google Scholar; Mazower, Mark, “The Strange Triumph of Human Rights, 1933–1950,” The Historical Journal 47 (2004): 379–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Waltz, Susan Eileen, “Universal Human Rights: The Contribution of Muslim States,” Human Rights Quarterly 26 (2004): 799844CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Moyn, Samuel, “Substance, Scale, and Salience: The Recent Historiography of Human Rights,” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 8 (2012): 124CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

13 Moyn, Samuel, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010)Google Scholar; Moyn, , Human Rights and the Uses of History (London: Verso, 2014)Google Scholar; Eckel, Jan and Moyn, Samuel, eds., Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)Google Scholar.

14 Alston, Philip, “Does the Past Matter? On the Origins of Human Rights,” review of The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law, by Jenny Martinez, Harvard Law Review 126 (2013): 2073Google Scholar.

15 Mazower, Mark, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Barnett, Michael N. and Finnemore, Martha, The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations 53 (1999): 699732CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 For exceptions, see Allen, Lori, “UN Commissions in Palestine: Fact-Finding or Feeling With?,” in The UN in the Arab World, ed. Prashad, Vijay and Makdisi, Karim (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, forthcoming)Google Scholar; and Chamberlin, Paul, “The Struggle Against Oppression Everywhere: The Global Politics of Palestinian Liberation,” Middle Eastern Studies 47 (2011): 2541CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 For an examination of the role of the growing nongovernmental organizations sector and donor assistance in the formation of a Palestinian elite, see Hanafi, Sari and Tabar, Linda, “Donor Assistance, Rent-Seeking, and Elite Formation,” in State Formation in Palestine: Viability and Governance during a Social Transformation, ed. Khan, Mushtaq Husain (London: Routledge, 2004), 215–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18 For cogent statements on why human rights histories matter (and critiques of Moyn), see Alston, “Does the Past Matter?,” 2074–81; and Martinez, “Human Rights and History,” 236–40.

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