Anthropology of Human Rights


1. To identify and face the epistemological and ethical challenges of Human Rights
2. To outline the development of Human Rights concept and related international institutions
3. To identify the relevant ethnographies produced about significant areas of concern and application of human rights
4. To identify the relevant ethnographies produced about human rights governmental and non-governmental organizations
5. To achieve methodological skills and tools for research in the area of Human Rights.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria dos Anjos Maltez Cardeira da Silva


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language



Available soon


COWAN, J. K., et al.Culture and Rights. Anthropological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press
ESSER, Ellen 1993.Anthropology and Human Rights. Annual Review of Anthropology. 222. 221-249.
FERGUSON, J. 2005.Anthropology and its Evil Twin: Development in the Constitution of a Discipline. In EDELMAN et al The Anthropology of Development and Globalization. Blackwell Publishing
FISHER, W. F. 1997.Doing Good? The Politics and Antipolitics of NGO Practices. Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 26, pps 439-464
ISHAY, M. R., 2004. The History of Human Rights. Berkeley: U. of California Press
MALKKI, Lisa H., 1996, Speechless Emissaries: refugees, Humanitarism, and Dehistoricization, Cultural Anthropology, 11, nº3, pps 377-404
SAHLINS, M. 1998.Two or three things that I know about culture. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.)5, 399-421

Teaching method

The course will work under a seminar regime. Classes will alternate moments of theoretical framework with thematic sessions of debate around texts, films and case studies presented by students for each of the thematic modules. The student participation will be essential and evaluated according to a pre-defined timetable. The pace of work will require the reading of at least one text for each class, as well as the progressive reading of the bibliography of general interest.
Texts and other materials and tools supporting the course should be consulted in the Moodle platform and at the blog

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

I. Genealogy of Human Rights.
I. a)The different "generations" of human rights.
I. b) International Organizations and NGOs
II. Story of a dangerous relationship: Anthropology and Human Rights.
II. a) The case of AAA
II. b) Should Anthropology be engaged?
III. ´Clash of civilizations´: Human Rights, Cultural Relativism and new rhetorics of international politics
IV. Women´s Rights and the rhetoric of "Women Salvation"
IV. a) Liberal and other Feminisms
IV. b) Sexual and Reproductive Rights
IV. c)The case of FGM
V. Human Rights and Multiculturalism
VI. Anthropology and the Human Rights of Refugees
VII. Violence and Suffering
VIII. Rights and indigenous movements
IX. Rights, Culture and Intellectual Property


Programs where the course is taught: