Taking Decolonizing Human Rights Seriously with Sumi Madhok
Date: Wednesday 28th September
Room: CLM.2.02, Clement House
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Chair: Clare Hemmings
At least two things are now self-evident: Human rights have become the predominant conceptual language of modernity; and around the globe, one is witnessing multitudinous struggles over rights and human rights. But, how useful is the human rights framework and ‘global human rights’ scholarship for thinking about the stakes and struggles over rights and human rights taking place across what Partha Chatterjee has called ‘most of the world’? And, more importantly, how do we conceptually capture these [human] rights struggles? Through ethnographically tracking ‘vernacular rights cultures’ mobilised around grassroots citizen movements in South Asia, Dr Madhok argues that this is a key epistemic and political question, if we are to take decolonising human rights seriously, and one consisting of a two fold challenge: to produce scholarship aimed at shifting the epistemic centre of human rights, and to generate conceptual work supportive of those challenging complex inequalities and the intersectional nature of oppression at the frontline.
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Sumi Madhok is Associate Professor at the LSE Gender Institute. She is the author of ‘Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism, Gender and Rights’ (2013); the coeditor of ‘Gender, Agency and Coercion’ ( 2013) and of the ‘Sage Handbook of Feminist Theory (2014). Currently, she is completing a monograph on vernacular rights cultures, gender and citizenship in South Asia. Trained as a feminist political theorist, Dr Madhok’s research lies at the intersection of feminist political theory and philosophy, gender theories, transnational activism, rights/human rights, citizenship, postcoloniality, feminist ethnographies and developmentalism.She has been the recipient of numerous grants and prizes including from the ESRC, The Mellon Foundation, the British Academy and the Ford Foundation. In 2013, she was awarded the ‘LSE Major Review teaching prize’ for outstanding contribution to teaching and during 2015-16 she held the prestigious Leverhulme Research Fellowship.