Where did human rights come from? This question, rarely asked before the end of the Cold War, has in recent years become a major focus of historical and ideological strife. In a series of reflective and critical essays, Samuel Moyn engages with some of the leading theorists of human rights, who have been creating a field from scratch without due reflection on the local and temporary contexts of their narratives.
Having staked out his owns claims about the postwar origins of human rights discourse in his acclaimed The Last Utopia, Moyn's new volume takes issue with his intellectual opponents—including, especially, those seeking justification for humanitarian intervention.
About the Author
Samuel Moyn is James Bryce Professor of European Legal History at Columbia University, where he has taught since 2001. His previous books include The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History.
Praise for Human Rights and the Uses of History…
“There is a struggle for the soul of the human rights movement, and it is being waged in large part through the proxy of genealogy ... Samuel Moyn ... is the most influential of the revisionists.” —Philip Alston, Harvard Law Review
Praise for The Last Utopia:
“With unparalleled clarity and originality, Moyn’s hard-hitting, radically revisionist, and persuasive history of human rights provides a bracing historical reconstruction with which scholars, activists, lawyers and anyone interested in the fate of the human rights movement today will have to grapple.” —Mark Mazower, author of No Enchanted Palace: The End of Imperialism and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations
“A most welcome book, The Last Utopia is a clear-eyed account of the origins of ‘human rights’: the best we have.” —Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
“A triumph of originality, scholarship, concision ... A genuinely thrilling account of the modern history of human rights.” —S.N. Katz, Choice
“A major contribution to the history of twentieth-century human rights ... From now on taking rights seriously means reading Moyn seriously.” —Bryan S. Turner, Contemporary Sociology