Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Human Rights in the Twentieth Century

$34.99 (G)

Part of Human Rights in History

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, Mark Mazower, G. Daniel Cohen, Mikael Rask Madsen, Samuel Moyn, Glenda Sluga, Lora Wildenthal, Jennifer Amos, Benjamin Nathans, Celia Donert, Devin O. Pendas, Fabian Klose, A. Dirk Moses, Andreas Eckert, Daniel Roger Maul, Jan Eckel
View all contributors
  • Date Published: December 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521142571

$ 34.99 (G)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, 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
  • Has there always been an inalienable “right to have rights” as part of the human condition, as Hannah Arendt famously argued? The contributions to this volume examine how human rights came to define the bounds of universal morality in the course of the political crises and conflicts of the twentieth century. Although human rights are often viewed as a self-evident outcome of this history, the essays collected here make clear that human rights are a relatively recent invention that emerged in contingent and contradictory ways. Focusing on specific instances of their assertion or violation during the past century, this volume analyzes the place of human rights in various arenas of global politics, providing an alternative framework for understanding the political and legal dilemmas that these conflicts presented. In doing so, this volume captures the state of the art in a field that historians have only recently begun to explore.

    • Captures the state of the art in the emerging field of human rights history
    • Provides a critical account of human rights history that is of interest in all other fields of modern history as well as for disciplines such as law, philosophy and sociology
    • The most comprehensive account of twentieth-century human rights history available
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “Human Rights in the Twentieth Century is a landmark in a field of supreme importance. It is enlightening and therefore disenchanting in the most constructive sense. It brings together a fine group of scholars, mainly historians, to provide historical perspective on a topic that is sorely lacking it and shows the contingency of the deployment of human rights as a political language, the varied roots of that language, and the diversity of objects that it can address.” – Donald Bloxham, University of Edinburgh

    “This is an outstanding collection of essays on various aspects of human rights history in the twentieth century. The essays cover a wide range topically – from the intellectual linealogy of the human rights concept to its relationship to states in specific circumstances – chronologically and geographically and are of uniformly high quality. They make exciting reading and together contribute enormously to helping understand one of the most vital and important – but hitherto insufficiently studied – developments in recent history.” – Akira Iriye, Harvard University

    “This is an impressive collection on a timely and important topic. Its strengths are considerable, including both stimulating synthetic ‘think-pieces’ on the changing meanings of ‘human rights’ and archivally based studies of how, and with what results, ‘rights-talk’ was mobilized by different groups and in different situations.” – Susan Pedersen, Columbia University

    “At long last we have a book that takes a critical approach to the history of human rights. Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann has put together a stellar cast of historians whose topics range widely around the globe. His own introduction raises the scholarship on human rights to a new level. This is the book that scholars and practitioners will need to read and debate.” – Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota

    "This important collection brings together historians attempting to chronicle the contested path Enlightenment ideas about human rights took as they made their way across the centuries and into the heart of contemporary world politics." -G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

    "Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann’s introduction to the volume, well worth reading, is a sharp and compelling historiographical review that sets the tone for the rest of the collection in its effort to denaturalize human rights and recast them as a conflicted and conflicting language of political contestation. Most of the authors of these essays are writing books on the recent history of human rights, proof that the future of this field will be exciting indeed." -Barbara Keys, European History Quarterly

    "...this is an excellent contribution to the field of human-rights history." -Jeremy Rich, Canadian Journal of History

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    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: December 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521142571
    • length: 366 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann
    Part I. The Emergence of Human Rights Regimes:
    1. The end of civilization and the rise of human rights: the mid-20th century disjuncture Mark Mazower
    2. The 'human rights revolution' at work: displaced persons in post-war Europe G. Daniel Cohen
    3. Legal diplomacy: law, politics, and the genesis of postwar European human rights Mikael Rask Madsen
    Part II. Postwar Universalism and Legal Theory:
    4. Personalism, community, and the origins of human rights Samuel Moyn
    5. René Cassin: les droit de l'homme and the universality of human rights, 1945–66 Glenda Sluga
    6. Rudolf Laun and the human rights of Germans in occupied and early West Germany Lora Wildenthal
    Part III. Human Rights, State Socialism, and Dissent:
    7. Embracing and contesting: the Soviet Union and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948–58 Jennifer Amos
    8. Soviet rights-talk in the post-Stalin era Benjamin Nathans
    9. Charter 77 and the Roma: human rights and dissent in socialist Czechoslovakia Celia Donert
    Part IV. Genocide, Humanitarianism, and the Limits of Law:
    10. Toward world law? Human rights and the failure of the legalist paradigm of war Devin O. Pendas
    11. 'Source of embarrassment': human rights, state of emergency, and the wars of decolonization Fabian Klose
    12. The United Nations, humanitarianism and human rights: war crimes/genocide trials for Pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh, 1971–4 A. Dirk Moses
    Part V. Human Rights, Sovereignty, and the Global Condition:
    13. African nationalists and human rights, 1940s to 1970s Andreas Eckert
    14. The International Labour Organization and the globalization of rights, 1944–70 Daniel Roger Maul
    15. 'Under a magnifying glass': the international human rights campaign against Chile in the 1970s Jan Eckel.

  • Editor

    Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, University of California, Berkeley
    Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann is Research Director at the Center for Research in Contemporary History, Potsdam, Germany, and has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. He is the author of the prizewinning The Politics of Sociability: Freemasonry and German Civil Society 1840–1918 (2007). Currently, he is preparing a short history of human rights and a book on Berlin in the wake of World War II.


    Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, Mark Mazower, G. Daniel Cohen, Mikael Rask Madsen, Samuel Moyn, Glenda Sluga, Lora Wildenthal, Jennifer Amos, Benjamin Nathans, Celia Donert, Devin O. Pendas, Fabian Klose, A. Dirk Moses, Andreas Eckert, Daniel Roger Maul, Jan Eckel

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.