Remembering a sociology of Human Rights
Keywords:Collective memory, holocaust, suffering, cosmopolitanism, vulnerability, universalism
A sociology of human rights sounds almost like a contradiction in terms. Sociology is about social groups, about particular experiences, about how people, embedded in space and time, make sense of their lives and give meaning to their world. It deals with power and interest and the social bases of our experiences. On the other hand, human rights are about human beings in general, without temporal or spatial references, not about groups and their boundaries. Human rights are about humanity, located in the world and connected to an inviolable nature. Global media representations, among others, create new cosmopolitan memories, providing new epistemological vantage points and emerging moral-political interdependencies. As such, memories of the Holocaust contribute to the creation of a common European cultural memory based on the abstract notion of human rights. Sociologically, a theory of human rights has to show how universal and particular memories co-exist, are reconciled etc. and what it means for the recognition of the “other”, and the broadening of circles of solidarity.
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