restricted access Human Rights, Social Justice, and J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace
Abstract

In its engagement with the relative successes and failures of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace explicitly invokes the concept of human rights only to expose the many limitations of rights as vehicles for approaching social justice. Disgrace first juxtaposes its protagonist’s “rights of desire” with human rights, thereby exposing significant liabilities of rights talk. At the same time, it contemplates a communitarian mode of interpersonal solidarity as an alternative to the rights paradigm. However, in the end, its insistence upon the indeterminate status of justice is paradoxically what enables its ethical and political force.


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