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Cover Human Rights

Indigenous Rights and Language Sovereignty  

Odilia Romero, Joseph Berra, and Shannon Speed

This chapter covers indigenous rights and language sovereignty. It discusses the underlying logic and role of settler colonialism in the dispossession and erasure of Indigenous people. Human rights practice lies at the intersection of languages, Indigeneity, and sovereignty. The human rights world has been primarily dominated by a Western colonial mindset as the dispossession and forced migration of Indigenous people resulted in the erasure of identities and persistence of racial hierarchies, overt racism, and cultural biases. The chapter clarifies that language is not neutral as the approach and access to language needs to be decolonized and language is inextricably linked to cultural identity. It also expounds on how human rights could harm Indigenous language knowledge keepers by referencing the work of Communidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO) on language rights and language sovereignty.


Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Discourse Analysis  

Breaking Down Ideational Boundaries in the Social Sciences

Elisa Narminio and Caterina Carta

This chapter describes discourse analysis. In linguistics, discourse is generally defined as a continuous expression of connected written or spoken language that is larger than a sentence. However, as a method in the social sciences, discourse analysis (DA) gave rise to diatribes about where to set the borders of discourse. As language constitutes the very entry point to the world, some discourse analysts argue that all that exists acquires meaning through language. Does this mean that discourse constitutes reality? Is there anything outside text and discourse? Or is discourse one among many means of social construction? The evolution of DA in social science unearths an ontological debate between ‘realists’ and ‘nominalists’, which eventually reverberates in epistemological strategies.


Cover International Relations Theories

9. Constructivism  

K. M. Fierke

This chapter examines the key debates that have shaped the development of constructivism in International Relations (IR). It first considers the idea that international relations is a social construction, as it emerged from the critique of more traditional theories of IR. It then explores the distinctions among various constructivisms, with particular emphasis on the contrast between those who seek a ‘better’ social science, and hence better theory, versus those who argue that constructivism is an approach that rests on assumptions at odds with those of positivist method. The chapter proceeds by discussing constructivists’ critique of rationalism, along with constructivism as a ‘middle ground’ between rationalist and poststructuralist approaches to IR. It also analyses the role of language and causality in the debate between rationalists and constructivists. Finally, it links all these insights to the War on Terror and the war on Covid-19.


Cover Human Rights

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Human Rights  

Christine Keating and Cynthia Burack

This chapter analyses the central human rights issues of LGBTIQ people by referencing sexual orientation and gender identity rights. It considers the power of human rights language and discourses with regard to addressing the discrimination, marginalization, and persecution of oppressed people. People are vulnerable to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights violations as a result of the social and political processes which led to heteronormativity and homophobia. The chapter covers the features of SOGI human rights violations such as violence, being committed by states, and correlates these to human rights concerns. It also tackles the critiques on SOGI human rights activism from conservative and progressive perspectives.


Cover Human Rights

Human Rights Claiming as a Performative Practice  

Karen Zivi

This chapter analyses the politics of human rights from a performative perspective. It starts with identifying rights claiming as one of the most common ways to highlight and demand redress for injustice across the world. The practice and promise of human rights have a clear gap as human rights violations remain a global issue despite the years of political activism, international human rights standards, and human rights theories. Indeed, several scholars are sceptical about the power of human rights in bringing an end to injustice and inequality. The chapter then covers the ideology of performativity correlating to a theory of language, gender, and politics. It explains that rights claiming may employ non-traditional forms of political engagement and depend on the state to secure the desired change.


Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

1. Normative and Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights  

Anthony J. Langlois

This chapter discusses the normative and theoretical foundations of human rights. More specifically, it examines the theoretical basis for the normative ideas advanced by those who use the language of human rights for an ethical critique of international politics and policy. The chapter first traces the origins of the language of rights before discussing cultural relativism and imperialism, both of which challenge the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ claim to have universal application. It then considers the negative/positive distinction as a way of thinking about the differences between liberty and welfare rights. It also explores group rights, along with the philosophical and political history of the idea of human rights. Finally, it explains how the human rights agenda is deeply political, showing that it privileges a certain set of normative commitments that its proponents hope will become, in time, the ethical constitution of the international system.