Human Rights for “Whores,” “Thieves,” “Foreigners,” etc.: Why We Need to Protect the “Underserving”

full name / name of organization: 
Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Coheson (RISC) Working Group on Development Equity and Social Cohesion
contact email: 
harlan.koff@uni.lu

Human Rights for “Whores,” “Thieves,” “Foreigners,” etc.: Why We Need to Protect the “Underserving”

Human Rights are supposed to extend to all human beings based on our intrinsic value as human beings. The rich literature on human rights has addressed this conceptual issue from many philosophical, legal, political and cultural dimensions. However, there is one human rights paradox that has not been sufficiently addressed in global debates: the fact that those people who are most vulnerable to human rights abuses are also those who are most stigmatized and feared in society. Mobilization occurs when the rights of “acceptable” individuals are violated. Why then is it so problematic to defend the human rights of those that mainstream society considers “underserving”? What does this say about our commitment to human rights? Doesn’t this indicate that certain individuals have moral human claims that are stronger than others? Moreover, knowing that prejudices exist, human rights violators often spread disparaging information about victims in order to discredit their claims. Why should it matter if victims are “whores,” “thieves” or “foreigners” as violators often claim. True or false, this point simply diverts public debates away from the essential need for human rights for all toward discussions of the moral worth of victims, thus undermining the very value of human rights.
This volume is predicated on the position that the defense of human rights must begin with those who usually “fall through the cracks” because they are somehow considered to be “unworthy” by mainstream society. Only by defending the rights of marginalized people can we claim to truly uphold human rights and protect human dignity. Moreover, by protecting the human rights of the “undeserving,” we undermine the efforts of violators to discredit victims. The RISC Consortium’s working group on “Development, Equity and Policy Coherence” calls for contributions to a book that focuses on the protection of human rights for those individuals that society often casts aside, such as sex workers, prison inmates, drug abusers, clandestine migrants, ethnic minorities, impoverished people, homeless, “mail order brides,” etc. This interdisciplinary volume welcomes academic contributions focusing on ethnographic research, life stories, legal discussions, policy debates or philosophical essays, etc.
Interested contributors should send a 500 word (max.) abstract to Prof. Harlan Koff, University of Luxembourg (Harlan.koff@uni.lu) by 1 September 2014. Authors will be notified of their acceptance by 15 September 2014. Full chapters will be due by 1 December 2014. Following peer-review, the book will be published in PIE-Peter Lang’s Regional Integration and Social Cohesion book series (http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailse...) in Spring 2015.

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
gender_studies_and_sexuality
general_announcements
interdisciplinary
journals_and_collections_of_essays