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Book description

This is the first global examination of the historical relationship between Christianity and human rights in the twentieth century. Leading historians, anthropologists, political theorists, legal scholars, and scholars of religion develop fresh approaches to issues such as human dignity, personalism, religious freedom, the role of ecumenical and transatlantic networks, and the relationship between Christian and liberal rights theories. In doing so they move well beyond the temporal and geographical limits of the existing scholarship, exploring the connection between Christianity and human rights, not only in Europe and the United States, but also in Africa, Latin America, and China. They offer alternative chronologies and bring to light overlooked aspects of this history, including the role of race, gender, decolonization, and interreligious dialogue. Above all, these essays foreground the complicated relationship between global rights discourses - whether Christian, liberal, or otherwise - and the local contexts in which they are developed and implemented.


‘This wisely edited volume brings together the latest work of a remarkable cohort of young scholars based throughout the globe who are rewriting the histories of both human rights and Christianity in the twentieth century. Catholic and Protestant engagements with human rights are shown to be even more different than widely supposed.'

David Hollinger - University of California, Berkeley

‘A superb collection that brings new life into perennial questions, such as whether Christianity invented human rights and whether its purposes are best advanced through the language of rights. The volume draws on cutting-edge work by leading scholars in history, law, theology and political theory. A powerful exploration of the political plasticity of Christian rights discourse.'

Cécile Laborde - University of Oxford

‘A wide-ranging volume with original and insightful contributions. Some of them enter a dialogue with Samuel Moyn's provocative work on human rights; others are free-standing and help us rethink the relationship between politics and Christianity in the twentieth century more broadly.'

Jan-Werner Müller - Princeton University

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