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Righting dissent: intellectual critique and human rights in Egypt

Andrawos, Nader (2021) Righting dissent: intellectual critique and human rights in Egypt. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This dissertation combines intellectual history and political theory to discuss the internal debates among Arab – mostly Egyptian – intellectuals around the fledgling human rights project over the past three decades. I focus on the origins of this project among intellectuals who emerged out of the radical student movement of the seventies, and who therefore had to negotiate a relationship between human rights and their earlier radical activism and with leftist critiques of human rights. I attempt to bring into dialogue contemporary academic critiques of human rights with themes that emerged out of those local debates and intellectual practices. To achieve this, I use a conceptual methodology that treats “critique” as a situated social practice shaped by shifting local and global problem-spaces. The primary problem-space in this case is the postindependence state and its increasing neo-liberal authoritarianism, which those intellectuals saw as a call for re-examining the entire paradigm of national liberation and its pitfalls. Such a perspective permits a fresh look at perennial issues in critical and post-colonial thought, such as tragedy, memory, jurisprudence, secularism, ethics, violence, nationalism and cosmopolitanism. I have three primary goals in mind: 1) to see how an alternative framing of human rights can be contrued; 2) to critique hegemonic framings of human rights; 3) to produce a “critique of the critique” of human rights from a local perspective. To this end, I propose a “neo-republican” reading of rights that emphasizes rights as primarily about rights to citizenship and an ethic of political participation. This work can be read as contributing to the literature on human rights, intellectual history, as well as social and political thought.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Nader Andrawos
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Bhatt, Chetan and Çubukçu, Ayça

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