- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay argues for a decolonial understanding of rights, beyond the conventional definition of human rights premised on a Western cosmology that foregrounds the human as an autonomous individual/agent unyoked by the surrounding world; beyond a circular conception of rights as the individual possession of the human inhering in “his” sovereign being; and beyond the provincial understanding of human and rights as inscribed in law and the state, and as universal and transcendental. I propose a shift in focus away from the liberal doctrine of human rights codified in law and the state, toward alternative, human rights contingencies, as modeled by the collectivist politics of social justice activists and creative practitioners. The practices of artivist collectives affirm a form of rights emphatic expression, an assertion of alternative sensibilities and values. In their collective orientation and civic engagement, collaborative art projects perform an oblique or indirect reference to human rights contexts, and it is precisely this indirection that enacts alternative human rights imaginaries: a pluriversality of human rights not dependent on legalism or the state.