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Human Development &
Capability Association

Multi-Disciplinary and People-Centred

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WEBINAR: A Larger We: Spirituality, Identity, Human Rights, and Social Change

December 1, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm UTC+0

Thursday, December 1, 16h00 UTC; 8 a.m. San Diego; 11 a.m. New York; 5 p.m. London; 9:30 p.m. Delhi.

The Human Rights thematic group of the Human Development and Capability Association is pleased to host the following presentation by Dustin Sharp of University of San Diego's Kroc School of Peace Studies:

The human rights idea raises a challenging question: How are humans connected to one another and how are they different? Why should people, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”? Many mainstream human rights advocates would be reluctant—even embarrassed—to answer these questions using concepts of peace, love, and understanding, much less spirituality. Indeed, spirituality remains both a relatively obscure topic within mainstream international human rights discourse and a taboo subject within the academy. Yet, despite our impoverished vocabulary for talking about it, spirituality remains core to the realization of human rights, Sharp argues. The challenge is as follows: On the one hand, the rhetoric and projects of a shared center includes concepts of universal human rights, common humanity and dignity, spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood, citizenship, and nationality that point to a larger ‘we’. On the other hand, a rhetoric of distinction aims to honor and protect difference and diversity and to highlight power differentials, inequalities, and the ways that categories such as race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation are used to oppress. Sharp argues that an important dimension of peaceful flourishing in heterogeneous societies is finding the right fulcrum point: identifying a shared center, a common or larger ‘we’. Although not a panacea, spiritual perspectives that enhance a sense of interconnectedness and inclusionary identity would go a long way toward forging a larger “we” in diverse, pluralistic societies, in turn reinvigorating the human rights project.

Dustin Sharp is an Associate Professor at the Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego.  He formerly served as researcher for Francophone West Africa at Human Rights Watch. He has published with Human Rights Quarterly and the Journal of Human Rights. He is the author of Rethinking Transitional Justice for the 21st Century: Beyond the End of History (CUP 2018).


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December 1, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm UTC+0
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