Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Practice of Human Rights
Tracking Law between the Global and the Local

$62.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

Mark Goodale, Sally Engle Merry, Daniel Goldstein, Lauren Leve, Laura Nader, Shannon Speed, Jean Jackson, Kay Warren, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, John Dale, Sari Wastell, Richard Ashby Wilson
View all contributors
  • Date Published: August 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521683784
Average user rating
(1 review)

$ 62.00 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Human rights are now the dominant approach to social justice globally. But how do human rights work? What do they do? Drawing on anthropological studies of human rights work from around the world, this book examines human rights in practice. It shows how groups and organizations mobilize human rights language in a variety of local settings, often differently from those imagined by human rights law itself. The case studies reveal the contradictions and ambiguities of human rights approaches to various forms of violence. They show that this openness is not a failure of universal human rights as a coherent legal or ethical framework but an essential element in the development of living and organic ideas of human rights in context. Studying human rights in practice means examining the channels of communication and institutional structures that mediate between global ideas and local situations. Suitable for use on inter-disciplinary courses globally.

    • Breaks new ground by approaching the study of human rights through a series of problems that require an interdisciplinary approach
    • The volume's four sections (violence, power, vulnerability, and ambiguity) are divided thematically without regard to traditional categories within human rights studies
    • Gives readers with different disciplinary backgrounds and interests the ability to see the issues under consideration from a range of angles
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This collection makes a compelling case for human rights as a new focus of anthropological research, evidence of a discipline in lively transition. Even more fundamentally, the range of projects and commitments expressed in the essays point to key locations - at once political, ethical, and experiential - in the new legal geography of globalism, as the contributors map the uneven horizons and pathways along which human rights are today asserted, defended, and contested."
    --- Carol Greenhouse, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

    "A compelling book. The anthropologists here are also interdisciplinarists. The reconfiguration of institutions, resistance movements and everyday expectations brought about by the very idea of human rights demands a reconfiguring of approaches from the social observer. The authors shrink from neither the questions nor the answers thrown up by human rights efforts in practice. By focusing on issues of violence, power, vulnerability and people's ambivalence, they offer insights that mould a new kind of realism."
    ---Marilyn Strathern, William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

    “Human rights” has become one of the key ideas of contemporary world-making. This book places it in an open intellectual landscape, where well-informed scholars come together to engage in close scrutiny of its translation into political and legal practice, in a wide range of settings from the Chiapas of the Zapatistas to the Myanmar of the military junta. Their global reach and theoretical sophistication contribute impressively to the vitality of the idea itself, and to the growth of understanding of its uses."
    ---Ulf Hannerz, Stockholm University

    ".....this volume presents a substantial overview of human rights practice, written by senior scholars in anthropology and law, mainly in the U.S. .....Goodale (conflict analysis and anthropology, George Mason U.) provides a lengthy introduction to the volume."
    ---Book News Inc.

    "...This volume will introduce the reader to some of the main issues and approaches in contemporary thinking on human rights being done in social science circles, primarily, but not exclusively, by anthropologists, and among the latter primarily, but not exclusively, those concerned with the anthropology of law..."
    Terence Turner, University of Chicago & Cornell University, Journal of Anthropological Research

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    05th Dec 2013 by Balta

    es un buen producto y muy bien redactado y perfecto para su consulta

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521683784
    • length: 398 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 153 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction - locating rights, envisioning law between the global and the local Mark Goodale
    Part I. States of Violence:
    1. Introduction Sally Engle Merry
    2. The violence of rights - human rights as culprit, human rights as victim Daniel Goldstein
    3. Double-binds of self and secularism in Nepal - religion, democracy, identity and rights Lauren Leve
    Part II. Registers of Power:
    4. Introduction Laura Nader
    5. The power of right(s) - tracking empires of law and new modes of social resistance in Bolivia (and elsewhere) Mark Goodale
    6. Exercising rights and reconfiguring resistance in the the Zapatista Shannon Speed
    Part III. Conditions of Vulnerability:
    7. Introduction Sally Engle Merry
    8. Rights to indigenous culture in Colombia Jean Jackson
    9. The 2000 UN Human Trafficking Protocol - rights, enforcement, vulnerabilities Kay Warren
    Part IV. Encountering Ambivalence:
    10. Introduction Balakrishnan Rajagopal
    11. Transnational legal conflict between peasants and corporations in Burma - human rights and discursive ambivalence under the US Alien Tort Claims Act John Dale
    12. Being Swazi, Being Human - custom, constitutionalism and human rights in an African monarchy Sari Wastell
    13. Conclusion - Tyrannosaurus Lex - The Anthropology of human rights and transnational law Richard Ashby Wilson.

  • Editors

    Mark Goodale, George Mason University, Virginia
    Assistant Professor of Conflict Analysis and Anthropology at George Mason University.

    Sally Engle Merry, New York University
    Professor of Anthropology and Law and Society at New York University.


    Mark Goodale, Sally Engle Merry, Daniel Goldstein, Lauren Leve, Laura Nader, Shannon Speed, Jean Jackson, Kay Warren, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, John Dale, Sari Wastell, Richard Ashby Wilson

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.