12 June 2018

BOOK: Patrick William KELLY, Sovereign Emergencies : Latin America and the Making of Global Human Rights Politics [Human Rights in History] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). ISBN 9781316730225, $ 24.00

Cambridge University Press has just published the eBook of a new book which deals with the role of Latin America in the making of global human rights politics during the 1970s. The paperback and hardback are to be released in August 2018.


The concern over rising state violence, above all in Latin America, triggered an unprecedented turn to a global politics of human rights in the 1970s. Patrick William Kelly argues that Latin America played the most pivotal role in these sweeping changes, for it was both the target of human rights advocacy and the site of a series of significant developments for regional and global human rights politics. Drawing on case studies of Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, Kelly examines the crystallization of new understandings of sovereignty and social activism based on individual human rights. Activists and politicians articulated a new practice of human rights that blurred the borders of the nation-state to endow an individual with a set of rights protected by international law. Yet the rights revolution came at a cost: the Marxist critique of US imperialism and global capitalism was slowly supplanted by the minimalist plea not to be tortured.

- Draws on archival research and oral interviews spanning ten countries in Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Australia
- Offers a highly interdisciplinary lens, drawing on political science, anthropology, law, and sociology to paint a broad historical canvas
- Historicizes the birth of global human rights politics with a minimalist focus on civil and politics rights in the 1970s


Patrick William Kelly, Northwestern University, Illinois
Patrick William Kelly is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University. He is currently writing a global history of AIDS.


List of figures
1. Torture in Brazil
2. The emergency in Chile
3. Transnational solidarity
4. Redefining sovereignty
5. The origins of American human rights activism
6. The global specter of Argentina's disappeared
7. Argentina and the inter-American system
Epilogue: the promise and limits of the human rights cascade

More information with the publisher

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