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The Effluent Eye - Narratives for Decolonial Right-Making

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  • 2024

  • Engelsk

Why human rights don’t work

In The Effluent Eye, Rosemary J. Jolly argues for the decolonization of human rights, attributing their failure not simply to state and institutional malfeasance but to the very concept of human rights as anthropocentric—and, therefore, fatally shortsighted. In an engaging mix of literary and cultural criticism, Indigenous and Black critique, and substantive forays into the medical humanities, Jolly proposes right-making in the demise of human rights.


Using what she calls an “effluent eye,” Jolly draws on “Fifth Wave” structural public health to confront the concept of human rights—one of the most powerful and widely entrenched liberal ideas. She builds on Indigenous sovereignty work from authors such as Robin Wall Kimmerer, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and Mark Rifkin as well as the littoral development in Black studies from Christine Sharpe, Saidiya Hartman, and Tiffany Lethabo King to engage decolonial thinking on a range of urgent topics such as pandemic history and grief; gender-based violence and sexual assault; and the connections between colonial capitalism and substance abuse, the Anthropocene, and climate change. 


Combining witnessed experience with an array of decolonial texts, Jolly argues for an effluent form of reading that begins with the understanding that the granting of “rights” to individuals is meaningless in a world compromised by pollution, poverty, and successive pandemics.



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