The History of Human Rights

History C187

Fall 2015
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-330P

What are human rights? What institutions, norms, and practices have people used to advance them, and what have been the effects? In this course, we will examine the processes through which human rights have been conceptualized, defined, violated, and vindicated. With a focus on the last two centuries, and especially the mid-twentieth century to the present, “The History and Practice of Human Rights” offers historical perspective on some of today’s most challenging issues, from state violence, military intervention, and international justice, to inequality and corporate abuse. Much of our analysis of these topics will center on the law, but we will also consider how the media and the arts have influenced the development of human rights thought and practice around the world.

Lynsay Skiba received her JD and PhD in history from UC Berkeley. Her research examines the globalization of human rights law in the Americas and beyond. Previously, Lynsay worked as a human rights lawyer at a California NGO focused on prison issues. 

Course Books

Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number by Timerman, Jacobo University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN: 978-0299182441 Required
The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics by Sikkink, Kathryn W.W. Norton. ISBN: 978-0393919363 Required
A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Power, Samantha Basic Books. ISBN: 978-0465061518 Required
The International Human Rights Movement: A History by Neier, Aryeh Princeton University Press. ISBN: 978-0691159607 Required