Tag Archives: social justice

Geographies of Human Rights and Responsibility

By Izabela Delabre, University of Reading

As Hillary Clinton stated in the 1995 United Nation (UN) Fourth World Conference on Women, “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” Twenty years later, this message remains critical.  Commemorating International Women’s Day, on 8th March 2015, President Barack Obama stated, “in too many places, women are treated as second-class citizens. Their abilities are undervalued. And their human rights – the right to learn, to express themselves, to live free from violence, to choose whether and whom to marry – are routinely violated.”

Writing in Geography Compass (2015), Nicole Laliberté explores the contribution that Geography can make in the critical study of human rights. She describes the language of “human rights” as emerging from relative obscurity in the 1940s, to being incorporated into the humanitarian and development industries in the 1980s. Today, human rights is the contemporary common language of justice claims (Cmiel, 2004). In the article, entitled “Geographies of Human Rights: Mapping Responsibility,” Laliberté identifies a gap in the critical geographic scholarship on questions of responsibility, including the multiple and conflicting claims of responsibility tied to spatial variations in the understandings, experiences, and deployments of human rights.

Human rights has become the contemporary lingua franca of justice claims

Helsinki Pride 2013: Human rights has become the contemporary lingua franca of justice claims (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Early geographic engagements with theories of responsibility were challenged for emphasizing a “top–down” approach. This view perceived richer countries as being responsible for less affluent countries and individuals, rather than interrogating how the rich are implicated in unequal distribution of resources. Critical geographers have used geographic theories of place, space, and scale to demonstrate how responsibility is not restricted by proximity and can function as a means of tracing and shaping social relations between distant individuals.

Laliberité finds that critical geographic analysis, when applied to the politics of human rights and the relations of responsibility associated with them, can provide a means of mapping injustice, analyzing landscapes of power, and practicing emancipatory politics. A number of feminist scholars argue that human rights are a modern form of masculinist and imperialist mediation that maintains injustice. Laliberté, however, recognizes the potential value in using human rights in specific contexts to fight injustice. She challenges the assumption that promoting human rights equates to promoting social justice, and argues against a singular normative meaning of either human rights or social justice.

References

60-world2   Clinton, H.R. (2015). First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton Remarks for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. Beijing, China. September 5th, 1995.

books_icon   Cmiel, K. (2004). The recent history of human rights. The American Historical Review 109 (1), pp. 117–135. doi: 10.1086/ahr/ 109.1.117.

books_icon   Laliberté, N. (2015). Geographies of Human Rights: Mapping Responsibility. Geography Compass 9 (2) pp. 57-67. doi: 10.1111/gec3.12196.

60-world2  The White House (2015). Statement of President Barack Obama Commemorating International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2015.

Geography Compass Content Alert: Volume 6, Issue 4 (April 2012)

Cover image for Vol. 6 Issue 4The latest issue of Geography Compass is available on Wiley Online Library.

Issue Information

Issue Information (pages i–ii)
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00488.x

Atmosphere & Biosphere

Mastodons and Mammoths in the Great Lakes Region, USA and Canada: New Insights into their Diets as they Neared Extinction (pages 175–188)
Catherine H. Yansa and Kristin M. Adams
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00483.x

Ecological Disaster or the Limits of Observation? Reconciling Modern Declines with the Long‐Term Dynamics of Whitebark Pine Communities (pages 189–214)
Evan R. Larson and Kurt F. Kipfmueller
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00481.x

Development

Rethinking Territory: Social Justice and Neoliberalism in Latin America’s Territorial Turn (pages 215–226)
Joe Bryan
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00480.x

Urban

Ethnic Entrepreneurship Studies in Geography: A Review1 (pages 227–240)
Qingfang Wang
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00482.x

Geography Compass Content Alert: Volume 6, Issue 3 (March 2012)

Cover image for Vol. 6 Issue 3

The latest issue of Geography Compass is available on Wiley Online Library.

Issue Information

Issue Information (pages i–ii)
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00487.x

Economic Geography

Social Justice and the Creative City: Class, Gender and Racial Inequalities (pages 111–122)
Deborah Leslie and John Paul Catungal
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00472.x

Geographies of International Education: Mobilities and the Reproduction of Social (Dis)advantage (pages 123–136)
Johanna L. Waters
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00473.x

Coerced, Forced and Unfree Labour: Geographies of Exploitation in Contemporary Labour Markets (pages 137–148)
Kendra Strauss
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00474.x

Environment and Society

Measuring the Performance of Partnerships: Why, What, How, When? (pages 149–162)
Claire Kelly
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00476.x

Environment, Business and the Firm (pages 163–174)
Federico Caprotti
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2012.00478.x

Against stereotyping

By Rosa Mas Giralt

Yesterday evening, the BBC2 programme Newsnight featured an investigative report by Richard Watson. During this investigation, reporters managed to buy two faked offer letters to enrol in a college in Britain for £200 and £150 in each case. These invitation letters are essential for non-EU citizens to be able to apply for a student visa to enter the UK under the points system recently introduced. In a sense, what the programme unearthed was another example of how some people are using the migration system in the UK to exploit the situation of would be migrants.

Unfortunately, these types of criminal activities also exacerbate stereotypes and prejudices against migrants, who are portrayed as willing to break the law to enter the country surreptitiously and to take advantage of opportunities to improve their economic situation. It could be argued that the fraudsters exploit migrants in a twofold way, economically, but also symbolically, by reinforcing widely held stereotypes. Public perceptions, in turn, have material impacts on the everyday life and wellbeing of migrants.

In a forthcoming article for Area, Caitlin Cahill (2010) discusses a participatory action research project called “Dreaming of No Judgement”, which was conducted by the grassroots community initiative Mestizo Arts & Activism Collective based in Salt Lake City (US). Following a participatory methodology, the project was undertaken collaboratively by young Latino researchers and other members of the community group. As Cahill explains their “project draws connections between representations of immigrant communities and access to opportunities, by focusing upon the emotional and economic impacts of stereotyping” (2010: 7). By bringing to the fore and making visible everyday embodied experiences of the effects of stereotyping, projects such as this contribute to the long-term struggle for social justice.

Watch Richard Watson’s Newsnight report on the BBC iPlayer

Read Richard Watson’s article about the investigation on the BBC website

Read Caitlin Cahill (2010) “‘Why do they hate us?’ Reframing immigration through participatory action research”. Area. [Early View]

Visit the Mestizo Institute for Culture & Arts’ website

Virtual Conference Report: Day Three (22 Oct, 2009)

by paulabowles UBoulderLibrary_spittoonToday’s papers have focused once more on the key motifs of the conference, that of breaking down borders and indisciplinarity. Nancy Naples (University of Connecticut) uses her paper: ‘Borderlands Studies and Border Theory: Linking Activism and Scholarship for Social Justice’ to highlight just some of the difficulties faced when ‘negotiate[ing] different disciplinary frames, methods, and theoretical assumptions in order to move forward toward collaborative problem solving’. The second paper today entitled ‘Theorizing Borders in a ‘Borderless World’: Globalization, Territory and Identity’ was presented by Alexander Diener (Pepperdine University) and Joshua Hagen (Marshall University). The authors question the assumption that world is becoming increasingly borderless, instead suggesting that state borders continue to ‘remain one of the most basic and visible features of the international system.’ Finally, on the third day of the conference Kivmars Bowling (Wiley-Blackwell) has presented a particularly relevant publishing workshop entitled ‘The Online Author’s Survival Guide’. The daily book prize was awarded to Maeve O’Donovan for her comment on David Crystal’s keynote lecture and the conference day ended in the Second Life cocktail bar.