“Malcolm X and the concept of human rights” – Lecture by Emma Stone Mackinnon (Cambridge)
when: 28 November, 16.00-17.30
where: Amsterdam, Bushuis E 1.02
discussant: Katy Hull, lecturer American Studies, UvA
In the year and a half before he was killed, Malcolm X frequently denounced the US for violations of human rights, including seeking to bring a complaint about the treatment of black Americans before the UN. On the usual telling, the language of human rights appealed to him because, unlike that of civil rights, it provided ground for international appeal. Among historians, his use of human rights is often seen as part of a Cold War story in which international demands for rights were increasingly domesticated, in favour of advocacy for civil rights alone – a shift that allowed for certain strategic gains but also represented the loss of a broader imaginary. But by returning to the use of human rights in Malcolm X’s thought, and connecting it to his earlier critiques of American hypocrisy, this talk will propose we can find a version of human rights politics far more robust than the current literature suggests. In recovering a radical and egalitarian human rights politics of the late 1950s and early 1960s, we see how Malcolm X used the concept of human rights to address and draw connections between economic inequality, anticolonialism, and American power internationally. His was an idea of human rights that grew out of a longer-running critique of American hypocrisy, and that, while it responded to that past, also projected a new vision for the world.
Emma Stone Mackinnon works on political theory and the history of human rights. She is currently a Junior Research Fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge; as of January 2020, she will join the History Faculty at Cambridge as a University Lecturer in the history of political thought. Her work has appeared in Political Theory and Humanity, and is forthcoming in several edited volumes.
“‘Doubts about man’: Apes and global markets in Enlightenment debates” – Lecture by Silvia Sebastiani (EHESS, Paris)
When: 31 March 2020, 16.00-17.30
Where: Amsterdam, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Potgieterzaal
Silvia Sebastiani is “maître de conférences” (associate professor) at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She obtained her PhD at the European University Institute with a thesis on race and gender in the Scottish Enlightenment. Her book The Scottish Enlightenment. Race, Gender and the Limits of Progress (2013) was awarded the Istvan Hont prize for the best book in intellectual history of the year. In 2017-2018 she stayed at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. Her current research is about Enlightenment debates on slavery and the boundaries between man and apes in the context of empire.