The Rise and Fall of Human Rights
Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine
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"In her exceptional book, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine, anthropologist Lori Allen explores a complex set of interlocking themes about the role of human rights in the Palestinian nationalist agenda, viewed through the prism of cynicism . . . This book is a must read—with relevance far wider than the case of Palestine."—Deena R. Hurwitz, Middle East Journal
"A significant contribution to our understanding of Palestinian politics and the global human rights movement. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been analyzed over and over again, but Lori Allen finds a genuinely new angle. This book achieves a rare balance of shedding light on recent events in the Middle East while producing thought-provoking arguments for understanding the potentials and limitations of human rights claims in situations of prolonged armed conflict."—Tobias Kelly, University of Edinburgh
"The idiom of human rights now pervades Palestinian ideas of who they are and what they hope to be. This eye-opening book explores how, between the friction of disappointment and hope, human rights values might still generate more viable means to build a common world. A profound reflection on the dominant discourse of emancipation in our times."—Jean Comaroff, Harvard University
"This powerfully argued book provides a welcome perspective on the 'human rights industry' in occupied Palestine. It constitutes a valuable contribution to the study both of a key example of the global discourse of human rights, and of the worsening situation of the Palestinians after nearly two decades of dual control by Israel and the Palestinian Authority."—Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University
"Lori Allen offers a powerful and unsparing analysis of the fragmented human rights world in the West Bank and Gaza, arguing that human rights work can only promote social justice when it is situated within, and informed by, a broader political vision and national project—something that still eludes Palestinians. Her critique contains within it a vision of the future where social change is indeed possible and where Palestinians and the state that has yet to represent them find common cause."—Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University
The Rise and Fall of Human Rights provides a groundbreaking ethnographic investigation of the Palestinian human rights world—its NGOs, activists, and "victims," as well as their politics, training, and discourse—since 1979. Though human rights activity began as a means of struggle against the Israeli occupation, it has since been professionalized and politicized, transformed into a public relations tool for political legitimization and state-making.
In failing to end the Israeli occupation, protect basic human rights, or establish an accountable Palestinian government, the human rights industry has become the object of cynicism for many Palestinians. Lori Allen contends, however, that far from indicating apathy, such cynicism generates a productive critique of domestic politics and Western interventionism. The book's broad appeal lies in illuminating the successes and failures of Palestinians' varied engagements with human rights in their quest for independence.
Anthropology — Middle East
Anthropology — Human Rights
Middle East Studies
Politics — Democracy and Human Rights
Series link: Stanford Studies in Human Rights
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