Graduate Associates
Return to LAPA Publications

LAPA's conference held in Princeton on October 24-25, 2003 on the subject of “Universalism and Local Knowledge in Human Rights” produced a book of essays, edited by then-LAPA-director Christopher Eisgruber and Professor of Law at Central European University, Budapest, András Sajó.

Global Justice and the Bulwarks of Localism:
Human Rights in Context

Edited by Christopher Eisgruber and András Sajó
Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden, Netherlands, 2005

Book available here.

The rise of international human rights during the last half of the twentieth century has transformed traditional notions of sovereignty. No longer is international law concerned almost exclusively with external relations among states and their representatives. Now, it imposes substantial restrictions on the domestic affairs of states and protects ordinary persons against mistreatment by their own government. The change came about in response to the Holocaust and the century's other great tragedies. Few doubt its value. Nevertheless, power exercised in the name of human rights can be misused or abused. As human rights institutions matured, and as international organizations intervened more vigorously on a global scale, human rights advocates and their critics worried about whether quests to vindicate supposedly universal human rights might sometimes impose western, first-world norms on cultures that did not want them. In this volume, internationally noted scholars collaborate to address issues about human rights and local culture from philosophical, legal, anthropological and sociological perspectives. Their essays focus on topics including self-determination, religion, truth & reconciliation commissions, and sexual mores.


Christopher L. Eisgruber, András Sajó and Alison Rose

Part I: The Power of the Universal

Chapter 1
Power and Culture in the Acceptance of Universal Human Rights
Lawrence Rosen

Chapter 2
Ambiguities and Boundaries in Human Rights Knowledge Systems
András Sajó

Chapter 3
Human Rights and a Humanist Social Science
Martin Krygier

Chapter 4
Social Representations of Human and Collective Rights: A Case Study in Quebec
Willem Doise and Monica Herrera

Part II: The Power of Self-Government

Chapter 5
Paradoxes of Self-Determination and the Right to Self-Government
Rainer Bauböck

Chapter 6
Ascriptive Groups and the Problems of the Liberal NGO Model of International Civil Society
Benedict Kingsbury

Chapter 7
What Self-Governing Peoples Owe to One Another: Universalism, Diversity, and the “Law of Peoples”
Stephen Macedo

Chapter 8
Rawls, Rights, and Realistic Utopias
Martin S. Flaherty

Part III: When Cultures Collide

Chapter 9
When Cultures Collide: Which Rights? Whose Tradition of Values? A Critique of the Global Anti-FGM Campaign
Richard A. Schweder

Chapter 10
Religion, Universal Human Rights, and the Ambivalence of the Sacred
W. Cole Durham, Jr.

Chapter 11
The Internationalization of Religious Positions on Human Rights: How Religious Particularisms are Uniting in a Campaign against Women's International Human Rights
Ann Elizabeth Mayer

Chapter 12
Creating a Human Rights Culture: The Role of Local Knowledge in Cambodia's Difficult Transition
Stephen P. Marks

Chapter 13
Justice for Migrant Workers? The Case of Foreign Domestic Workers in Hong Kong and Singapore
Daniel A. Bell

Chapter 14
Made to Order? Transitional Justice Initiatives in the Developing World, or the Truths We Should be Telling
Nicole Fritz