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Rights and Social Justice

Key Questions:

  • What are rights and what might constitute social justice?

  • How are rights imbricated in cultural processes and how can culture affirm them?

  • What processes of inclusion and exclusion operate in a postcolonial and postimperial setting?

  • How can citizenship and democracy be reconceptualized to meet 21C challenges?

  • What can intellectuals working in their specialisms, across disciplines, and in cooperation with other groups in civil society contribute towards achieving forms of social justice?

Theme Summary

Rights are at the core of modern society and structure our understanding of what is acceptable, to whom and when. In a sense, our evolving sense of rights has come to include many forms of different rights, be it human rights, animal rights, the right to live, to vote, to be treated equally under the law, and many others. The notion of rights can also be seen as central to all our institutions and forms of governance. At the same time, the notion of rights being guaranteed or upheld by individuals, societies, or governments has perhaps never been more under siege as the world confronts mounting challenges to peaceful coexistence.

Understood at its most basic social justice would be a form of avoiding inequality in society, be that in economic, personal, or political terms. In a globalized world the notion of social justice has also become more and more interconnected with the idea of global justice. Technological advances, relative stability, vastly improved networks and communications all would point out to a wider diffusion of justice. Yet, inequality has been increasing at an alarming rate. Closely allied to rampant economic discrepancies either between parts of the world or within specific nations, is an equally problematic escalation of authoritarian governmental measures coupled with new challenges to core democratic institutions and the rule of law. These issues can play on an abstract level but also have very highly visible concrete manifestations such as the refugee crisis, the erosion of infrastructure and social networks and the massive governmental budget cuts into key areas of society.

Postcolonial and postimperial conditions mark our contemporary world and shape its more pressing concerns, be it in terms of migration issues, citizenship struggles, democratic participation, or even just the right to life. Researchers at Warwick, across departments in the Arts and Humanities as well as in the Social Sciences are currently engaged in a number of projects keyed to an understanding of these complex issues that aim both at an advancement of knowledge as well as its possible application in terms of community relations and policy development.


Get In Touch!

Theme-lead: Prof Paulo de Medeiros (English and Comparative Literature Studies)

Email: p dot de-Medeiros at warwick dot ac dot uk