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Human Rights, Inc.The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law$
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Joseph R. Slaughter

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823228171

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823228171.001.0001

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Becoming Plots: Human Rights, the Bildungsroman, and the Novelization of Citizenship

Becoming Plots: Human Rights, the Bildungsroman, and the Novelization of Citizenship

(p.86) Chapter 2 Becoming Plots: Human Rights, the Bildungsroman, and the Novelization of Citizenship
Human Rights, Inc.

Joseph R. Slaughter

Fordham University Press

The humanist discourse of human rights risked being overrun by seemingly plotless accounting methods for representing and imagining the contemporary social world and human development. This chapter explores a more general intersection of the conceptual vocabularies of human rights and narrative theory. When Ireland's former president Mary Robinson reproached the United Nations for straying from its historical plot and losing the thread of the human rights plot to other imperatives, she suggested that state and other interests have corrupted the basic humanist vision of free and full human personality development. However, in fact, lamentations over a degraded human rights plot — and the blunting of its counteractive force — draw too neat a distinction between a rebellious spirit of human rights and their current crass instrumentalization by states and other international actors. As the chapter shows, with regard to rebellion and legitimation, both human rights and the Bildungsroman equivocate as a matter of form.

Keywords:   human rights, Mary Robinson, United Nations, human personality, rebellion, legitimation, Bildungsroman, narrative theory, humanist

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