An interdisciplinary collection, Gender and Culture at the
Limit of Rights examines the potential and limitations of the
"women's rights as human rights" framework as a strategy for
seeking gender justice. Drawing on detailed case studies from the
United States, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere,
contributors to the volume explore the specific social histories,
political struggles, cultural assumptions, and gender ideologies
that have produced certain rights or reframed long-standing debates
in the language of rights.
The essays address the gender-specific ways in which rights-based
protocols have been analyzed, deployed, and legislated in the past
and the present and the implications for women and men, adults and
children in various social and geographical locations. Questions
addressed include: What are the gendered assumptions and effects of
the dominance of rights-based discourses for claims to social
justice? What kinds of opportunities and limitations does such a
"culture of rights" provide to seekers of justice, whether
individuals or collectives, and how are these gendered? How and why
do female bodies often become the site of contention in contexts
pitting cultural against juridical perspectives?
The contributors speak to central issues in current scholarly and
policy debates about gender, culture, and human rights from
comparative disciplinary, historical, and geographical
perspectives. By taking "gender," rather than just "women,"
seriously as a category of analysis, the chapters suggest that the
very sources of the power of human rights discourses, specifically
"women's rights as human rights" discourses, to produce social
change are also the sources of its limitations.
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