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Agamben and the Politics of Human RightsStatelessness, Images, Violence$
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John Lechte and Saul Newman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645725

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645725.001.0001

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Human Rights and Statelessness Today

Human Rights and Statelessness Today

(p.1) Chapter 1 Human Rights and Statelessness Today
Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights

John Lechte

Saul Newman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores some of the major problems, challenges and tensions that human rights face today. Human rights are situated on the horizon of the ubiquitous politics of securitization and immunity, in which the prerogatives of state sovereignty and the exigencies of protecting the community overtake human rights concerns. The properly transcendent dimension of human rights is thus reduced to the logic of fact and situation. Moreover, human rights are constrained through their reduction to the humanitarianism, as well as within the discourse of human security, which, while it tries to preserve human rights by reconciling them with security, ends up diminishing them even further. Finally, it is through the paradigm of statelessness that we consider the limitations of current understandings of human rights, suggesting that this condition reveals the basic tension between abstract human rights and the category of citizenship and inclusion within established political communities – a tension that explains why the human rights of stateless people are so readily disregarded and violated. It is in this context that we examine Giorgio Agamben's central critique of human rights as the rights of ‘bare life’ which are ineffectual against sovereign power

Keywords:   Securitisation, immunisation, Esposito, humanitarianism, human security, statelessness, refugees and asylum seekers

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