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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2020

Sarah Shortall
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins
Affiliation:
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
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Summary

This chapter introduces the main themes of this volume and its contribution to the existing scholarship on Christianity and human rights. Whereas the “classical” historiography on this subject has tended to focus on the much older origins of human rights – rooting them in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Protestant Reformation, or the Enlightenment and Age of Revolutions – this volume builds on a “new” historiography that focuses on the much more recent origins of human rights. The chapters explore the various interactions between Christianity and human rights theory in the twentieth century, not just in Europe and North America but also in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The introduction reflects on how this history changes our understanding of both human rights and the history of Christianity. It attends in particular to the ways that Christian accounts of human rights have supported but also contested the dominant liberal rights model and stresses the political ambiguities and internal diversity of Christian human rights discourse as it developed globally in the twentieth century.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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