Australian Journal of Human Rights

Afterword - Decolonising utopia

To date, modernist thinking has dominated the interdisciplinary field of intellectual inquiry engaged with utopia and utopianism. In this article, I argue that in order to fully engage with the possibility of different utopias emerging in the early decades of the 21st century, we have to be prepared to decolonise the premise on which utopian imaginings are conventionally based.

Victims’ rights, victim collectives and utopic disruption at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

This article examines victim participation at Cambodia’s hybrid tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The tribunal — which attempts to bring former Khmer Rouge to justice for crimes committed between 1975 and 1979 — has invited significant participation by ‘victims’ and has provoked new public debate about the past, ongoing suffering and reparation. The participation of collectives of victims, and the collective nature of their participation, are here considered as interventions in the immanent utopic processes of the ECCC.

Towards a realistic utopia: literary representations of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

The ad hoc international criminal tribunals established by the UN Security Council in the 1990s represented the first international efforts to respond to war crimes since the Nuremberg Trials. These tribunals had practical as well as symbolic significance in the context of a longer history of utopian ideas of international justice and universal human rights. Focusing on the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), this article examines the 2009 memoir of the ICTY’s chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, as well as Dubravka Ugresić’s novel The Ministry of Pain (2005).

Crooked lines: utopia, human rights and South Asian women’s writing and agency

My article focuses on the relationship between human rights and utopia with special focus on South Asia and women's writing and agency. Utopia offers possibilities to capture, in writing and practice, the impossible good place. Utopia has the dimension of the anticipatory consciousness, but also the impulse to narrativise that not-yet. Human rights too have a dual impulse of a strong drive to articulate a desired set of norms, while knowing that their actualisation is partly elusive.

Framing human dignity: visual jurisprudence at South Africa’s Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of South Africa is a unique space by international comparison because it houses a large visual art collection developed by and for the court. The purpose of this article is to look at the connections between human dignity and art at the Constitutional Court. Is the performance of dignity in the art collection a utopian ideal, achievable objective, or unrealised potential?

Realising rights here and now

A focus on utopia risks obscuring complexities in the process of realising human rights in time through institutions of governance. This article recounts judicial rituals by which judges delay the coming into effect of their conclusion that a law violates human rights. Here the more ‘radical’ approach involves insisting on rights’ enforcement now. The article also addresses a controversy around the moment when a right began to produce legal effects that bind governments.

Material subjects and vital objects — prefiguring property and rights for an entangled world

This article considers the effects of the critique of the subject–object distinction on the concept of property rights. My starting point is that there is nothing ‘given’ or natural about the subject–object distinction: rather, it is an effect produced by a distinctive matrix of ideas, physical-environmental facts, and social behaviours or performances. I explore what it might mean for property if we shift the human being from a position of control over the world to a position of being situated fully in the world.

On the genealogy of human rights: an essay on nostalgia

On the genealogy of human rights: an essay on nostalgia nostalgia

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.


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