Author Archives: Tobias Kelly

About Tobias Kelly

Tobias Kelly is professor of political and legal anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include human rights, torture and ill-treatment, and freedom of conscience. He has carried out fieldwork in Israel/Palestine, the United Kingdom, and at the United Nations. He is the author of two monographs: Law, Violence and Sovereignty amongst West Bank Palestinians (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and This Side of Silence: Human Rights, Torture and the Recognition of Cruelty (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). He is currently working on an anthropological history of conscientious objection.

Dead bodies (do not) matter

Edinburgh, October 2018 From migrants facing death at borders around the world, to the different chapters of the “War on Terror,” to the politics of post-genocide, our era seems to be marked by the constant politicisation of death. Social and physical death are increasingly intertwined in various spectacles of horror. Clearly, not all deaths are treated equally. Trenchant questions remain over what kinds of death are deemed morally, political and legally significant; and what kinds of death are rendered visible or invisible, and with what Continue reading →

Two Cheers for Ritual: The UN Committee Against Torture

Abstract: This paper asks, what might it mean to take seriously the claim that human rights processes are a form of ritual? It does so through an ethnographic analysis of the work of the UN Committee Against Torture. The apparent self-referentiality of human rights regimes has led some critics to argue that they have become an increasingly calcified process. This paper argues though that the formal ritual of the UN human rights monitoring process can create space for the moral imagination. More specifically, the rituals Continue reading → Continue reading →