Introduction - Human rights, interdisciplinarity and the time of utopia

This article explores the relationship between human rights and utopian thinking through three recurrent tropes: interdisciplinarity, time and the promise. Utopia, like human rights, is shaped by its interdisciplinary engagement with multiple fields of knowledge, by its invocation of the past, present and future as ways of addressing contemporary problems, and by a promissory language, often unfulfilled, of social change and betterment. These interconnected ideas suggest that an attention to the dialogue between utopian thought and human rights can open up new conceptual possibilities, even as those possibilities often fail, or are themselves partial.


Benjamin Authers is an Assistant Professor, School of Law & Justice, University of Canberra, and Visiting Fellow, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University. Email:

Publish Date: 
November, 2016
Publication title: 
AJHR 22-2: Special issue on Utopias and human rights