GI426      Half Unit
Gender and Human Rights

This information is for the 2020/21 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, Peace and Security, 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 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 and intersectional gender perspective on contemporary theories and practices of rights/human rights and humanitarianism. It brings together different sets of scholarship: gender theories,decolonial, 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 key scholars : CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Gayatri Spivak, Michel Rolph Trouillot, Ratna Kapur, Hannah Arendt, Audra Simpson, Walter Mignolo, Girogio Agamben, Jacques Rancierre, Judith Butler, Lila Abu Lughod, 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', 'civilisation' and 'indigeneity', as well as to tensions between citizenship rights 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  sexuality, sexual rights, bodily rights, culture, development and citizenship; over entitlements to material resources; to gendered protections in conflict; and on vulnerability and precarity under neoliberal economic and political regimes. The course is focused on encouraging critical thinking on human rights together with introducing students to alternative, decolonial and anti colonial perspectives on rights and human rights. 


This course runs in Lent Term. It contains both asynchronous and interactive teaching and learning elements.

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

Formative coursework

Formative essay assignment.

Indicative reading

Essential readings:

Trouillot, M.R., 1995. Silencing the past: Power and the production of history. Beacon Press.

James, C.L.R., 2001. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Penguin UK.Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis

 McKittrick K. (2015) ed. 'Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis',  Duke University Press.

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

Kapur, R., 2018. Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl. Edward Elgar Publishing., 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.

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

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

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



Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 29.1
Merit 55.5
Pass 15
Fail 0.4

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Gender Studies

Total students 2019/20: 67

Average class size 2019/20: 17

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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