The Social Origins Of Human Rights: Protesting Political Violence In Colombia?s Oil Capital, 1919…

Paperback | June 2, 2015

byLuis Van Isschot

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Human rights activism is often associated with international organizations that try to affect the behavior of abusive states around the globe. In Barrancabermeja, Colombia, argues Luis van Isschot in The Social Origin of Human Rights, the struggle for rights has emerged more organically and locally, out of a long history of civil and social organizing. He offers deep insight into the lives of home-grown activists in a conflict zone, against the backdrop of major historical changes that shaped Latin America in the twentieth century.
            Built by Standard Oil in 1919, and home to the largest petroleum refinery in the country, Barrancabermeja has long been a critical battleground in Colombia’s armed conflict. One of the most militarized urban areas on earth, the city has been a regional base for the Colombian armed forces as well as for leftist guerrillas and a national paramilitary movement. In the midst of a dirty war in which the majority of victims were civilians, urban and rural social movements from Barrancabermeja and the surrounding area came together to establish a human rights movement. These frontline activists called upon the Colombian state to protect basic human rights and denounced the deeper socioeconomic inequalities they saw as sources of conflict. Through close study of the complex dynamics at work in Barrancabermeja, van Isschot shows how the efforts we describe as “human rights” activism derive in large part from these lived experiences of authoritarianism, war, poverty, and social exclusion. Through its social and historical approach, his analysis both complements and challenges the work of scholars who look at rights issues primarily through a legal lens.

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From the Publisher

Human rights activism is often associated with international organizations that try to affect the behavior of abusive states around the globe. In Barrancabermeja, Colombia, argues Luis van Isschot in The Social Origin of Human Rights, the struggle for rights has emerged more organically and locally, out of a long history of civil and s...

Luis van Isschot is an assistant professor of the history of modern Latin America at the University of Toronto. He has worked and conducted research in Latin America, Canada, the United States, and the Great Lakes region of Africa. From 1995 to 2005, he worked for Peace Brigades International (PBI), which provides unarmed protective ac...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:June 2, 2015Publisher:University of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299299848

ISBN - 13:9780299299842

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations                
Preface                       
Chronology of Barrancabermeja History                   
 
Introduction: "My basic training took place in the street"                
1 Oil Workers, Colonos, and the Roots of Popular Radicalism                    
2 New Social Movements Come Forward                 
3 War in the Countryside and the Transformation of a Company Town                 
4 Popular Protest and Human Rights Activism                    
5 Biography of a Human Rights Movement             
6 The Backlash against Human Rights                      
7 Social Movements Respond to Catastrophic Change                    
Conclusion: "This utopia, this chance to continue dreaming"                       
 
Notes             
References                  
Index

Editorial Reviews

“What truly distinguishes van Isschot’s work from other scholarly work on human rights activism in Latin America is the emphasis on the local level and the exploration of the state’s dual role of systematizing human rights while also undermining them.”—Choice