GI426      Half Unit
Gender and Human Rights

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sumi Madhok COL.11.01G


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Gender, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Gender (Sexuality), MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in International Relations Theory, MSc in Women, Peace and Security and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


A background in the Humanities and/or the Social Sciences with a basic familiarity with human rights and/or gender studies.

Course content

This course will provide the students with a transnational gender perspective on contemporary theories and practices of rights/human rights and humanitarianism. It brings together different sets of scholarship: gender theories, queer and  postcolonial scholarship, theoretical perspectives on human rights along side with legal and policy perspectives - and will be of interest to students wanting to study the question of human rights in an interdisciplinary manner but also one that is crucially sutured to the question of gender. Consequently, the course will introduce students to several key theorists: Hannah Arendt, Girogio Agamben, Jacques Rancierre, Gayatri Spivak, Judith Butler, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Lila Abu Lughod, and Wendy Brown among others while drawing attention to the evolution and working of international legal frameworks for securing women's rights and other marginal groups. The course will pay special attention to the struggles over 'humanity' and 'civilisation' as well as to tensions between citizenship rights (now thought in terms of global citizenship.) and human rights, and the transformation of the former in the light of the latter. It will also focus on feminist demands and struggles over rights such as those to sexuality, sexual rights, bodily rights, culture and citizenship; entitlements to material resources; to gendered protections in conflict, peacekeeping and war; and to vulnerability and precarity under neoliberal economic and political regimes.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Review of a key theorist that students have read on the course.


Indicative reading

Essential readings:

Abu Lughod, L. (2013) 'Do Muslim Women Need Saving', Harvard University Press.

Agamben, Giorgio. Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life. Stanford University Press, 1998.

Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973.

Balibar, Étienne. Equaliberty: Political Essays. Duke University Press, 2014.

Butler, Judith, and Athena Athanasiou. Dispossession: The performative in the political. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Douzina, C and Connor Gearty. ( 2014) 'The Meanings of Rights', Cambridge University Press.

Fassin, D. ( 2012) 'Humanitarian Reason', Harvard University Press.

Freeman, M, C. Chinkin and B. Rudolf eds. ( 2012) The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women : A Commentary, Oxford University Press.

Moyn, Samuel ( 2010) 'The Last Utopia', Columbia University Press.

Sonia Correa, Rosalind Petchesky and Richard Parker (eds.) Sexuality, Health and Human Rights (New York: Routledge, 2008).

Richardson Diane, “Constructing Sexual Citizenship, Theorising Sexual Rights”, in J. Shaw and I. Stiks, ed. The International Library of Essays on Rights: Citizenship Rights. London, UK: Ashgate, 2013.

Recommended readings:

Feldman, Ilana, and Miriam Ticktin. ( 2010)  'In the name of humanity: the government of threat and care'. Duke University Press.

Brown Wendy ( 2015) 'Undoing the Demos'.

Chatterjee, P. ( 2004) 'Politics of the Governed'.


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Gender Studies

Total students 2018/19: 92

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication