Introduction to Dossier on Human Rights Rituals

Abstract: In this special issue, four essays draw on distinct traditions in law, literary studies, history, and anthropology to explore international human rights law through a lens rarely used in this domain—that of ritual. This introductory essay explains the significance of collective rituals as socially structuring events that embody power relations. It considers the role of ritual in instigating or strengthening community, and as a mode of governance that may circumvent the emergence of more violent regimes. It discusses how law generally is authorized and entrenched through rituals, and shows how human rights law relies particularly heavily on them.

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About Hilary Charlesworth

Hilary Charlesworth is a Melbourne Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University. She held an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship from 2010 to 2015 on "Rights, Regulation, and Ritualism,'' which supported the conference on which the essays in this dossier are based.

About Benjamin Authers

Benjamin Authers is lecturer in law at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, and a visiting fellow at the Australian National University's School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in Canberra, Australia. His research focuses on law and literature, with a particular interest in literature's intersections with Canadian and international human rights. His book A Culture of Rights: Law, Literature, and Canada was published by University of Toronto Press in 2016.

About Marie-Bénédicte Dembour

Marie-Bénédicte Dembour is professor of law and anthropology at the University of Brighton Business School. She is author of Who Believes in Human Rights?: Reflections on the European Convention (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and When Humans Become Migrants: A Study of the European Court of Human Rights with an Inter-American Counterpoint (Oxford University Press, 2015).

About Emma Larking

Emma Larking is a visiting fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University. She is author of Refugees and the Myth of Human Rights: Life outside the Pale of the Law (Ashgate/Routledge, 2014) and coeditor (with Hilary Charlesworth) of Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Her current research considers the capacity of human rights to redress material inequality. She is also interested in political mobilizations for social justice, with a focus on antipoverty campaigns and the global food sovereignty movement.