Writing the History of Socioeconomic Rights
Workshop May 26-27 2015
University of Warwick
During this two-day workshop, we will consider how to write the history of socioeconomic rights – rights to health, food, work, housing and education. These rights, which have received considerably less attention than civil and political rights, have recently come into focus among scholars and NGOs. Often considered to be ‘second generation rights’, that is, as twentieth-century additions to ‘core’ civil and political rights stretching back to the eighteenth century, notions of socioeconomic rights stretch back, in fact, to the Enlightenment. Socioeconomic rights exploded into the politics of the French Revolution. Since then, however, their legitimacy has been contested and has proved to be more precarious than that of civil and political rights. What accounts for this historical precariousness?
This workshop is being held during the IAS fellowship of Samuel Moyn (Harvard Law School, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History). It will bring together scholars working from different disciplinary perspectives – history, law, politics, literature, philosophy, anthropology – in an effort to conceptualise problems and dynamics related to the history of socioeconomic rights. We aim to explore the complicated interactions between these rights and politics, political economy, philosophy, humanitarianism, theories of law and rights, biopolitics and health, international relations and economic conjunctures.
Panel sessions will involve a mix of presentations of original research and led- group discussions of pre-circulated readings. All participants are encouraged to read the pre-circulated readings, as they will form the basis of much of the discussion.
Please note: Reading materials are linked to relevant sections in this programme and are also available for download from Reading Materials for Attendees page as both individual files and a zipped folder.
Tuesday, May 26
12:00 – 1:30 – Lunch
1:30 – 1:45 Introduction – Charles Walton/Claudia Stein
1:45 – 2:30 For Citizens or All Humanity? Socioeconomic Rights as Gifts
* Discussion led by Sam Moyn (Law, Harvard) and Mark Goodale (Anthropology, University of Lausanne)
- George Gurvitch’s The Bill of Social Rights (1946)
- Hannah Arendt, ‘For Citizens or All Humanity: Socioeconomic Rights as Gifts?’(1951)
- Jonathan Parry, 'The Gift, the Indian Gift and the "Indian Gift"
2:30 – 3:15 The American Origins of the Socioeconomic Rights of 1948
* Discussion led by Sally-Anne Way (LSE, Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights) and James Harrison (Law, Warwick)
- Sally-Anne Way, ‘From constitutional laissez-faire towards economic and social rights: Examining the influence of the legal realists and the institutional economists in the emergence of economic and social rights’
- Sally-Anne Way, ‘The “Myth” and Mystery of US History on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: The 1947 “United States Suggestions for Articles to be Incorporated in an International Bill of Rights”’
3:15 – 4:00 Rights-Bearing Bodies and the 'Socio-economic'
* Discussion of readings, led by Matthew Clayton, Aoife Nolan, Roberta Bivins
- Aoife Nolan, Introduction to Children's Socioeconomic Rights (Oxford, 2011)
- Farhat Moazam, Riffat Moazam Zaman, Aamir M. Jafarey, ‘Conversations with Kidney Vendors in Pakistan: An Ethnographic Study’
4:00 – 4:15 Coffee break
4:15 -- 5:00 The Denial, Death and Vindication of Socioeconomic Rights
* Presentation: ‘A Story of Rights Denied?’ by Steven Jensen (Danish Institute for Human Rights)
* Discussion of two readings, led by Paul O’Connell (Law, SOAS) and Steven Jensen
- Geraldine Van Beuren, ‘Socio-economic Rights and a Bill of Rights - an overlooked British tradition’
- Paul O'Connell, 'The Death of Socioeconomic Rights’
5:00 – 5:45 Between Justice and Regulation: Framing the 'socioeconomic' in the 18th/19th centuries
* Presentation: ‘Fichte's Justification of the Right to Live from One's Labour’ by David James (Philosophy, Warwick)
* Discussion of a reading led by Claudia Stein
- Thomas Lemke, 'The Government of Living Beings': Michel Foucault'
5:45– 6:30 Rights and Labour Struggles, 19th & 20th centuries
* Presentation: ‘Labour and the Language of Rights in Colonial India’ by Aditya Sarkar (History, Warwick)
* Discussion of readings, led by Nicolas Delalande, (History, Sciences Po)
7.30 Dinner in the Private Dining Room, Scarman
Wednesday, May 27
9:00 – 10.15 Leftist Politics and Socioeconomic Rights: UNESCO, Amnesty International, Eastern European Dissidence
* Presentation: ‘A “Hollow Sham”: UNESCO and the Pre-History of Human Rights, 1946-1948’ by Mark Goodale (Anthropology, University of Lausanne)
* Presentation: 'Eastern European Dissidents and Socioeconomic Rights in the 1970s' by Lewis Smith (History, University of Warwick)
* Discussion of reading, led by Stephen Hopgood (SOAS) and Mark Goodale
10:15 – 10:30 Coffee break
10:30 – 11:15 Rights and Socioeconomic Justice in the French, Haitian and Mexican Revolutions
* Presentation: ‘Transactional Rights: The Politics of Obligation in the French Revolution’ by Charles Walton
* Discussion of a reading, led by Charles Walton and Ben Smith (History, Warwick) and Philip Kaisary (Law, Warwick)
- Philip Kaisary, ‘Hercules, the Hydra, and the 1801 Constitution of Toussaint Louverture’
* Discussion of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, by Ben Smith
11:15 – 12:00 Socioeconomic Rights and Humanitarianism: Overlaps, Differences
* Discussion of a reading, led by Eleanor Davey (History, Manchester)
12:00-12:30 Concluding Remarks