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CSPO 1130A - Human Rights in Asia

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This subject focuses on human rights and its critics from a historical and comparative perspective, giving more attention to what is happening in China. The factors that have given rise to radically different conception of rights and justice (i.e. political, economic, cultural, religious, ideological) will be explored, together with the obstacles in terms of implementation they are encountering at the local, national, and international levels. What is the relationship and relevance of the international human rights movement to local notions of rights? What impact is this having on local gender relations and the relationships of women to their states and communities? Are human rights NGOs weakening or strengthening the nation-states in Southeast Asia. Are they sites of resistance or complicity? The subject will draw upon a wide range of sources from theoretical works, philosophical and anthropological critiques of rights discourse, and NGO documents to offer a more nuanced perspective on what Human Rights mean to Asia. At the end of the course, the student is expected to : 1°) Have a comprehensive grasp of established international and human rights discourses the emergent critiques that destabilize rights discourse. 2°) Demonstrate an understanding of the larger international political arena of human rights work, going beyond the traditional Western understanding of rights. 3°) Have an advanced understanding of major issues and sensitivities regarding contemporary Asia.


ASTARITA, Claudia (PhD. Lecturer)

Course validation

To validate the course, the student is expected to pass the following assignments: 1°) In-class presentation on a specific topic (topics will be announced during the first lecture) 2°) Individual research paper 3°) Final exam

Required reading

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), document downloadable at

Additional required reading

  • James Scott, “Freedom and Freehold: Space People and State Simplification in Southeast Asia”, in David Kelly and Anthony Reid (eds.), Asian Freedoms (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  • Tom Campbell, “Four Critiques of Rights”, in Tom Campbell, Rights: A Critical Introduction (London: Routledge, 2006).
  • Beng Huat Chua, “Asian Values: Is an Anti-Authoritarian Reading Possible?” in Mark Beeson (ed.), Contemporary Southeast Asia: regional dynamics, national differences (Houndmills, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
  • Please have a look at this webpage and read some of the documents that you find interesting that you will be finding on it: