Rights from the Other Side of the Line

Postcolonial perspectives on human rights


  • Owen Brown Freie Universität Berlin




Eurocentrism, human rights, international law, political theory, postcolonialism


This paper discusses the theorising of human rights from a postcolonial perspective, a process that entails placing the dominant human rights discourse in its social and historical context, in order to highlight the ways in which human rights are discursively constructed and become naturalised. The definition of human rights is problematised through an examination of both the more traditional European viewpoints as voiced by such theorists as Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben, and from the postcolonial perspectives of such writers as Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Vivienne Jabri as well as Siba N. Grovogui.  While readjusting the conception of human rights to one that expands beyond the borders of Western tradition and legalism to a recognition of how human rights are embedded in culture, it is hoped that such an analysis will broaden our understanding of the various definitions of human rights.

Author Biography

Owen Brown, Freie Universität Berlin

Owen Rhys Brown, 25, is a graduate of the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations specialising in European Union and German Studies. He is currently enrolled in the joint Master of Arts, International Relations programme at Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Universität Potsdam. His research interests include postcolonial and critical theory, racism and discrimination, and post-communist Central and Eastern Europe.




How to Cite

Brown, O. (2014). Rights from the Other Side of the Line: Postcolonial perspectives on human rights. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science, 25, 5–26. https://doi.org/10.22151/politikon.25.1