Human Rights Education in Osler and Starkey:From Analytic Framework to Object of Analysis

Lewis, Pancho (2014) Human Rights Education in Osler and Starkey:From Analytic Framework to Object of Analysis. CORERJ: Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal, 1 (1). pp. 19-39. ISSN 2056-7804

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Since the 1990s, Human Rights Education (HRE) has been an important focus of educational research. Key thinkers, such as James Banks and Ali Abdi, have argued that teaching human rights should be central to educational practice, urging policy-makers to integrate HRE into their respective national curricula. Two key figures within HRE are Audrey Osler (University of Leeds) and Hugh Starkey (Institute of Education). Throughout their careers they have written extensively on the topic and played an important role on the international stage advocating the dissemination of HRE practice. Yet, Osler and Starkey’s work arguably lacks sufficient reflexivity, ignoring the ambiguities, complexities and paradoxes of human rights as a tool for political empowerment. Drawing on two strands of social theory, this article aims to open up possibilities for thinking reflexively about ‘human rights’ in Osler and Starkey’s work. The first strand is inspired by post-structuralist theory and the second is anthropological and explores human rights ethnographically. I argue that Osler and Starkey should incorporate three issues concerning human rights into their arguments. These are that (a) human rights discourse and legislation operate in temporally and spatially ambiguous ways, (b) human rights discourse should be understood in their full contextual complexity as opposed to neutralised and (c) human rights discourse possesses a constitutive function and does not merely reflect pre-established identities. I suggest that adopting such an approach would pave the way for thinking critically and creatively about human rights as a tool for emancipatory social change.

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Journal Article
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CORERJ: Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal
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29 Mar 2022 16:25
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11 Sep 2023 22:58