Transmodernity 5 (9):1-22 (2020)

Benjamin Davis
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
It is one thing to consider what human rights have been and another to inquire into what they could be. In this essay, I present a history of human rights vis-à-vis decolonization. I follow the scholarship of Samuel Moyn to suggest that human rights presented a “moral alternative” to political utopias. The question remains how to politicize the moral energy around human rights today. I argue that defending what Édouard Glissant calls a “right to opacity” could politicize the ethical energy around human rights today. Glissant’s right to opacity outlines a blueprint for the praxis of human rights to shift from a “functional model” to a “critical model,” to use Enrique Dussel’s distinction. My ultimate aim is to show how social movements around human rights and decolonization could converge today.
Keywords Decolonial Theory  Human Rights  Enrique Dussel  Edouard Glissant  Right to Opacity
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