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Reframing Human Rights: health, ‘dirt’ and ecologies of right-making

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The University of Western Australia

Fox Lecture Theatre

35 Stirling Hwy

Crawley, WA 6009

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This talk uses narrative to pose a non-anthropocentric alternative to human rights frameworks to reframe debate about human & enviro health.

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Reframing Human Rights: health, ‘dirt’ and ecologies of right-making

A public lecture by Professor Rosemary J. Jolly, Weiss Chair, Humanities in Literature and Human Rights, Pennsylvania State University and 2020 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

A central problem of the UNHR is its dependence on the state and citizenship as the conditions under which human rights flourish. Professor Jolly proposes an extra-anthropocentric contextualization of normative human rights as human rightness.

How do communities that do not depend on the state for their articulation – the indigenous, migrant, those at the peripheries of the global economy, and/or indentured by it – envision what she calls extra-anthropocentric human rightness, and how do they practice such rightness in aesthetic production, specifically as manifest in the narrative arts? Further, since human rights norms are deeply immersed in cultures of materialist accumulation, she is specifically interested in how animist cultures, who have beliefs in the value of the non-human and immaterial, have developed practices of human rightness through aesthetics means.

This talk uses narratives, both fictional and non-fictional, to pose an alternative to human rights frameworks that is non-anthropocentric (but not anti-human) to reframe debates concerning the health of humans, of the environment, and of the relation between the two. Professor Jolly will theorize how to frame the concept of Human Rights as non-anthropocentric and then go on to talk about her HIV/AIDS research to communicate a sense of what such an outlook might look like in the sub-Saharan African setting, in a specific context of massive human death.

It is her hope that this talk may open a discussion of what extra-anthropocentric human rightness may have to offer in the current Australian context of massive non-human animal extinction in the fires.

Rose Jolly was born in South Africa and left for Canada in 1981 due to the apartheid regime of the time. She came to Penn State in 2013. Her overarching interest is in the ways in which representations of violence and reconciliation actually affect inter-governmental, inter-community and inter-personal relations in contexts of conflict. Her work explores the links between living conditions of extreme deprivation, gender-based violence and coercion, and the HIV pandemic. She has worked with victim-survivors of state sponsored torture, gender-based violence, and communities fractured by illness globally. She explores the ethics of working with highly vulnerable communities in research and development.

She has published in the fields of South African literature and culture, postcolonial theory, and the critical medical humanities. Her work has involved mixed quantitative and qualitative methodologies. She is particularly experienced in qualitative analysis of oral testimony and tools of qualitative research that involve embodied gesture in addition to conventional verbalization.

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The University of Western Australia

Fox Lecture Theatre

35 Stirling Hwy

Crawley, WA 6009

Australia

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