Global Human Rights and Local Social Movements in a Legally Plural World

Sally Engle Merry

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The problem of universalism and relativism in human rights needs to be considered through ethnographic examinations of the mobilization of global human rights in local political struggles. Using the example of a local movement against gender violence in the United States, this article argues that the rights approach provides important resources for local movements but contains particular Western concepts and categories of subjectivity. Given the extent to which legal strategies are subverted within and outside the legal system, here the rights strategy creates new cultural spaces far more than it produces coercive intervention. A framework of legal pluralism and local mobilization provides a perspective which moves beyond the dichotomies of the universalism/relativism debate.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)247-271
    Number of pages25
    JournalCanadian Journal of Law and Society
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1997

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Law


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