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2 - Human Rights As an Ideology?

Obstacles and Benefits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 June 2020

Lea David
Affiliation:
University College Dublin
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Summary

This chapter focuses on two main issues. First, it discusses why it is beneficial to understand human rights as an ideology. It explains why ideology in general, and nationalism in particular, can add to our understanding of the impact that the human rights agenda has on the ground. It introduces Malešević`s theory on the organisational and ideological power of nationalism and its relationship to the ideological perception of, and the forging of solidarity attachments for, people on the ground. Though the distinction between the promotion of human rights and the promotion of nationalist-centred memory is allegedly apparent, what is lacking in the scholarly literature and in practice are theoretical tools to assess their impact in the long run. The lack of a suitable theoretical paradigm reduces our ability to grasp the complex meaning-making processes that are crucial and inseparable from the process of memorialising the past. Second, the chapter shows the historical obstacles to conceptualising, in a systematic way, human rights as an ideology, showing how disciplinary baggage (in sociology in particular) has downgraded and suppressed our ability to assess human rights and value production across the globe.

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The Past Can't Heal Us
The Dangers of Mandating Memory in the Name of Human Rights
, pp. 21 - 40
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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