Abstract

A recent trend in human rights scholarship reflects the influence of the cultural relativist claims that have often been advanced by the political elites of the non-Western authoritarian states. This scholarly trend in which universalism meets cultural relativism gives birth to the notion of "chastened universalism," or "tempered universalism." The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran, by anthropologist Arzoo Osanloo, fits well in this trendy genre. I read these ethnographical studies with interest—and for an aftereffect. What comes after such knowledge? As an un-chastened advocate of universalism, I use the standards derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights model. How should I modify my approach, or methodology, in analyzing and presenting the violations that take place in a contemporary nation-state like Iran? These ethnographical explorations call for a retooling of human rights discourse and practice. My conclusion is, however, that these explorations hardly provide meaningful guidelines, or even vague recommendations, that could be of practical value to human rights monitors and researchers who must remain focused on the occurring violations, with the victims always in sight.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-794X
Print ISSN
0275-0392
Pages
pp. 507-545
Launched on MUSE
2012-05-05
Open Access
No
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