The Human Right to Dominate
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The Human Right to Dominate

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At the turn of the millennium, a new phenomenon emerged: conservatives, who just decades before had rejected the expanding human rights culture, began to embrace human rights in order to advance their political goals.

In this book, Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon account for how human rights - generally conceived as a counter-hegemonic instrument for righting historical injustices - are being deployed to further subjugate the weak and legitimize domination. Using Israel/Palestine as its main case study, The Human Right to Dominate describes the establishment of settler NGOs that appropriate human rights to dispossess indigenous Palestinians and military think-tanks that rationalize lethal
violence by invoking human rights. The book underscores the increasing convergences between human rights NGOs, security agencies, settler organizations, and extreme right nationalists, showing how political actors of different stripes champion the dissemination of human rights and mirror each other's political
strategies.

Indeed, Perugini and Gordon demonstrate the multifaceted role that this discourse is currently playing in the international arena: on the one hand, human rights have become the lingua franca of global moral speak, while on the other, they have become reconstrued as a tool for enhancing domination.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 216 pages
  • 176 x 234 x 15mm | 300g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199365008
  • 9780199365005
  • 545,278

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ; Introduction: Human Rights as Domination ; Chapter 1: The Paradox of Human Rights ; Chapter 2: The Threat of Human Rights ; Chapter 3: The Human Right to Kill ; Chapter 4: The Human Right to Colonize ; Conclusion: What Remains of Human Rights? ; Notes ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

The text is cogently argued, thought-provoking, and filled with fascinating detail. Perugini and Gordon provide a convincing demolition of the idea that human rights stand above politics, and that they always work in defense of the oppressed. * James Eastwood, Journal of Palestine Studies * The Human Right to Dominate is a highly original, provocative, and timely contribution. Perugini and Gordon offer a critical realist examination of the state of human rights in light of the fact that states, militaries, and other national security actors have used the language of human rights to justify wars, occupations, and extra-judicial executions. This, they argue, is not a misappropriation but a paradoxical consequence of the successful elevation of
human rights language into a globalized normative framework. * Lisa Hajjar, author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza * For Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, if we celebrate the idea of human rights when progress occurs, we must also blame it when things go wrong. And their disturbing book on the fate of human rights in Israel/Palestine in the last decade shows why - not least when illegal settlers claim the ideals for themselves. But while wary of easy uplift, The Human Right to Dominate ultimately calls for saving human rights from what they have become in an age when states
usually win and our highest values can help launder endless wars. * Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History * This is a stunning book. The clarity and insight of The Human Right to Dominate should be required reading for anyone concerned with human rights. The aim of the authors is not to debunk the concept, but to suggest that it must be open to a critical reinterpretation that subverts, rather than reinforces, relations of domination. * Joan W. Scott, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study * Nourished by a profound knowledge of the intricacies of the situation in Israel and Palestine, Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon uncover a remarkable paradox of contemporary society: how the claim for human rights can coexist with the use of violence and serve purposes of domination. Their convincing analysis invites a critical rethinking of the global moral order. * Didier Fassin, editor of Moral Anthropology and Contemporary States of Emergency * This books intriguing title sums up a critical, compelling and innovative analysis of human rights Perugini and Gordon make a very important contribution to re-thinking the role of human rightstheir relation to state power, to domination and oppression and their functioning in social struggles. * Thomas Spijkerboer, Human Rights Law Review * The tight relationship between human rights and the sovereign state has elicited significant critical attention (Agamben, 1998; Arendt [1951] 1968; Douzinas, 2000; cf. Cohen, 2012), and Perugini and Gordon (2015) make an important contribution to this literature as they examine Israel's creation as a representative example of "the constitutive relationship between human rights, national statecraft, and domination" (Perugini and Gordon, 2015:30). * Ayten Gundogdu, Journal of International Political Theory * The Human Right to Dominate is a compelling book for many reasons. The authors present a clear argument that the relationship between human rights and domination is strong and insidious, and explore it through the case of the seemingly intractable Israel/Palestine conflict, which attracts some of the most voluble human rights debate. ... Perugini and Gordon have made a welcome contribution to the growing range of scholarship that takes a hard, critical look
at what the human rights system has become. * Lori Allen, Global Discourse *
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About Nicola Perugini

Nicola Perugini is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Middle East Studies and Italian Studies at Brown University.

Neve Gordon is Professor of Politics and Governemnt at Ben-Gurion University and author of Israel's Occupation.
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