Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Decolonizing human rights: The challenges of ensuring the dignity and freedom of Iranians through a human rights framework
by Driver, Sahar DeAnne, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2014, 305; 3643099
Abstract (Summary)

The human rights industry today generates and organizes knowledge about the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iranians. The cultural archive it produces has been used to advance the global North's geopolitical interests and the accumulation of capital and power that leads to human rights abuses in the first place. Use of the human rights framework as a political strategy among Iranian–Americans and other allies acting from across geographic, political, economic, religious and other boundaries is therefore risky. The dangers it introduces should be examined alongside its tactical uses.

This dissertation presents a close analysis of certain observables that make visible "human rights" discourse or activity related to the Islamic Republic of Iran today. It presents an examination of a series of texts that give "human rights" its shape: from academic and journalistic accounts to online data aggregators, film, social media, and related policies. It traces its use by competing actors: from activists and politicians to business leaders and academics. In so doing, the dissertation reveals important political, emotional, intellectual, and socio-economic contestations that arise through use of the human rights framework.

The dissertation sheds light on the motivations and methods of entities that take up the human rights framework as a political strategy. It narrates the relations between observables, revealing the architecture of a human rights "industry" that consumes and produces knowledge about Iranians and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In so doing, this dissertation reveals the vulnerability of the human rights discourse and activities to other projects and finds that the human rights industry motors a form of (neo)Orientalism that should be interrupted if the network of actors around the world that are set up to address violations of "human rights" are to be effective at helping to maintain or uphold the dignity and freedom of Iranians in a sustainable way.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fahim, Urusa
Commitee: Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz, Ryan, Jim
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Anthropology and Social Change
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies, International Relations, Political science, Rhetoric
Keywords: Activism, Human rights, Iran, Orientalism, Political strategy
Publication Number: 3643099
ISBN: 978-1-321-30383-4
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