Human Rights

Human Rights

Paper instructions:

1. (3 pages; 1 hour) A genealogy is a technique that can be used to chronicle the histories of ideas over time. As a genealogist, your job is to selectively trace the emergence, history, and current status of an idea.
Using the work of Paul Gordon Lauren, Elaine Scarry (“The Difficulty of Imagining Other People”), and Costas Douzinas, (“Are Rights Universal?”), please write a genealogy of modern, international human rights, making the case for or against their perpetuation as a matter of universally applied international law based upon your piecing together of:
a. their origins;
b. their philosophical underpinnings;
c. their rise in 1945 in a new, global form; and
d. their implementation (challenges; rewards).
Choose TWO from the following questions (2 pages, .75 hour each)
A. Using any texts from this class, but especially Little Bee, Costas Douzinas “The End of Human Rights,” and the video featuring Jami from The Guardian newspaper, write a letter to Hannah Arendt in which you respond to her argument about the gap between “human” and “citizen” in “The Perplexities of the Rights of Man.” Based upon the texts and your research, from which you should generously quote by way of example in your letter, give Arendt an update on the situation regarding human rights, nationality, and citizenship in the new millennium.
B. You are a journalist writing a story on the relationship between language, images, and human rights. Using Little Bee, any of the documents in the torture unit, documents related to Shell oil’s operation in the Niger Delta, or any of the texts related to the Rwandan genocide, write an article in which you chronicle the relationship between image and language usage and the achievement (or destruction) of human rights cultures as represented in each case.
C. In his essay “Are There Times When We Have to Accept Torture,” Ariel Dorfman tells a story from Dostoevsky’s great novel The Brothers Karamazov, in which one brother, Ivan, a symbol for the Enlightenment value of reason, asks the other, Alyosha, a symbol for Christian values of forgiveness and love, “Let us suppose that in order to bring men eternal happiness, it was essential and inevitable to torture to death one tiny creature, only one small child. Would you consent?” At the end of his essay, Dorfman flips the question and asks the reader, “There is, however, a further question, even more troubling, that Ivan does not ask his brother or us: what if the person being endlessly tortured for our wellbeing is guilty? Would we answer, Yes, I do consent?” Using any of our course texts, (including the human rights treaties themselves) write an essay in which you explore issues of innocence and guilt, of retribution v. forgiveness, of hatred v. reconciliation, in the context of human rights law and culture.
D. What do you know about the role of business in relation to human rights? As a future business leader, what are your ideas for using business to create stronger cultures of human rights? What tools can you leverage to reduce the harm done by global business and consumption? Write a letter to President Healey that includes your responses to these questions, as well as a brief statement about how you think Babson’s curriculum should (better) address them.
E. Both Batuk of The Blue Notebook and Little Bee of Little Bee arguably die at the end of the novels—but this is not the full story. Both novelists are at pains to show the profound oppression of and violence against their characters while not reducing them to pure victims, devoid of resistance, agency, and power. Indeed, both Batuk and Little Bee are quite fierce in their resistance to the oppression that they face. Write an essay in which you analyze the balance these novelists achieve in creating great characters full of strength who also are constrained by the circumstances of their lives in such a way that they cannot, ultimately, triumph.
F. Write an essay comparing the strategies of telling the Rwandan genocide in Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April, respectively. You may use reviews of the two films to substantiate your claims. Is one more effective than the other in ethically representing the violence and horror of those events? What role does realism (in portraying violence; in capturing the reality of the genocide) play in these depictions? With whom are viewers asked to identify over the course of the films, and how does this identification impact the reception and understanding of the genocide?

4. (unspecified length/time) You have studied human rights for an intense six weeks. Please address a letter to me that talks as candidly as possible about your journey through this course and, most significantly, about your understanding of your own relationship to human rights in relation to your vision for your life and future. This could include the cultural context from which you are coming or to which you will be going, your future work life, family life, individual life choices…wherever your mind and your heart take you…Even if it is to say that human rights is not the tool that you would choose to employ for your social justice goals…

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