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The Rise, Retreat, and Revival of Human Rights in South Africa

When Sep 23, 2011
from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Where Memorial Lounge, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center
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When: Sep 23, 2011 from 03:30 PM to 08:55 PM
Where: Memorial Lounge, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center

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Professor Saul Dubow was educated at the Universities of Cape Town and Oxford and has been at Sussex University since 1989. His teaching and research concentrates on the history of modern South Africa from the early nineteenth century to the present. His research bears on the development of racial segregation and apartheid in all its aspects: political, ideological and intellectual. He has special interests in the history of race, ethnicity and national identity, as well as the nature of imperialism and of colonial science.

Professor Dubow's principal publications include: A Commonwealth of Knowledge: Science, Sensibility and White South Africa, 1820–2000 (Oxford University Press, 2006); Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (Cambridge University Press, 1995); Racial Segregation and the Origins of Apartheid in Twentieth Century South Africa, 1919–36 (Macmillan, 1989); and The African National Congress (2000). Professor Dubow is working on a history of apartheid for Oxford University Press, and this lecture on the history of human rights forms part of this project.

"The Rise, Retreat, and Revival of Human Rights in South Africa"

Post-apartheid South Africa foregrounds human rights in its aspirations to build a non-racial society, in its constitution, and its laws. Yet, a shared culture of human rights has yet to establish itself, and there are worrying portents for the future. This lecture examines the concept of human rights over two hundred years: through colonial agitation to secure equality for all indigenous peoples, in claims for non-racial citizenship, and in opposition to the segregationist and apartheid regimes. I shall argue that, while a a long tradition of human rights is clearly discernible, it is both fractured and inconsistent. The recent enthusiasm for human rights came out of a unique conjuncture in the 1980s, and it came to prominence as the African National Congress and the ruling National Party came to realise—rather against their own instincts—that the adoption of human rights was a cause which could further their own interests in the process of political transition.

 

This is part of the Global Approaches to Intersectionality lecture series.