(Re)Framing the Subject(s) of Rights

  • Anne Becker
Part of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights book series (CHREN, volume 2)


This chapter explores the shifting content of the concept subject (of rights). Although by common assumption the subjects of rights are “all members of the human family”, the divisive ontological and epistemological in(ex)clusionary premise of human rights points to the contrary. The critique of the subject of rights concerns questions regarding what the content of the concept subject is, and how the subject comes into existence. It also questions the privileging of the enlightenment humanist human as pre-existing subject and the privileging of the historic western epistemological framework. The chapter traces the subject of rights as premised particularly on the identity of the enlightenment western male, its metamorphoses into citizen, into human (rights) during the 1940s, and, in recent years, into victim. I argue that becoming subjects of rights is enacted through human rights literacies and processes of political and pedagogical subjectification. I conclude that the ongoing critique and the suspicion of the content of the concept subject (of rights), might open possibilities for the continual (re)framing of the subjects of rights in becoming.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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