Human Rights Speaker Series: The Relevance of Social Science and History to the Theory and Practice of Human Rights Today and Tomorrow

  • Wed 9 Feb 22

    14:00 - 15:30

  • Online


  • Event speaker


  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Human Rights Centre Speaker Series

  • Event organiser

    Human Rights Centre

  • Contact details

    Law and HRC Events and Communications Team

Please join us for the latest Human Rights Speaker Series, hosted by the University of Essex Human Rights Centre and the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub.

Human Rights Speaker Series: The Relevance of Social Science and History to the Theory and Practice of Human Rights Today and Tomorrow

In his book, Human Rights: an interdisciplinary approach (Polity Press, fourth edition, 2022), Michael Freeman considers why the various social sciences (political science, international relations, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and economics) were slow to take up the idea of human rights and how they have done so in the past two decades or so. He argues that the explanation must be in part historical and philosophical in that human rights and the social sciences have different and incompatible histories and philosophical bases. Historians have entered the field of human right studies only recently but, in doing so, have challenged what some have called `textbook’ histories of human rights. This webinar will explore different historical approaches to human rights and their implications for human rights social science, law and activism. It will also examine the present state of social-scientific knowledge about human rights and consider whether what we now know supports the ‘endtimes’ of human rights, as Stephen Hopgood has argued, or provides ‘evidence for hope’, as Kathryn Sikkink has proposed.


Professor Ann Marie Clark is a political scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and recently held a four-month Fulbright Fellowship as Research Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Ottawa's Centre for Human Rights Research and Education. She is the author of Diplomacy of Conscience: Amnesty International and Changing International Human Rights Norms (2001), Sovereignty, Democracy, and Global Civil Society (2005, with Elisabeth Jay Friedman and Kathryn Hochstetler), and numerous journal articles.  Her most recent book, Demands of Justice: The Creation of a Human Rights Practice, is due to be released by Cambridge University Press in February 2022.

Professor Michael Freeman is an emeritus professor in the Department of Government, University of Essex. He is the author of Human Rights: an interdisciplinary approach (Polity Press, fourth edition, 2022); He has law degrees from Cambridge and Stanford universities, and a PhD in political theory from Essex University. He taught political theory for many years at Essex, where at various times he directed programmes in political theory, the Enlightenment and human rights. He has published numerous articles in political theory, the philosophy of social science, and human rights. He has lectured on human rights in more than 25 countries. He is a former chairperson of Amnesty International’s British Section.

Professor Robert Lamb is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Exeter. He is author of Thomas Paine and the Idea of Human Rights (2015), Property (2020), and various essays on the history of modern political thought and its methodology, as well as on contemporary political theory. He is currently working on a book about the concept of political hope.

Professor Samuel Moyn is Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of History at Yale University, and is on leave this winter at the University of Oxford to deliver the Carlyle Lectures in the History of Political Thought on the subject of Cold War liberal political theory. His work on human rights includes such books at The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Harvard University Press, 2010) and Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (Harvard University Press, 2018). His newest book is just out in the United Kingdom as Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War (Verso, 2022). His interests are in twentieth-century intellectual and international history.

How to register

Wednesday 09 February 2:00-3:30pm GMT

Please register for this webinar via Zoom.

Related events