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History of Human Rights Workshop



Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 1:00pm - 5:00pm


Stanford Humanities Center, Board room



History of Human Rights Workshop


History of Human Rights Workshop


Thursday, May 9, 2013, 1-4 pm

Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room

RSVP to Biliana Kassabova (


Moderator: Keith Baker (Stanford University)


Jonas Ross Kjærgård (Aarhus University):

“The Struggle over Human Rights: Money, Equality and Sentimentality in French Revolutionary Culture, 1787-1799.”

Susan Maslan (University of California, Berkeley):

“Forests, Mountains, and City Streets: Spaces and Subjects of Rights in 1789.”

-- Break --


Moderator: JP Daughton (Stanford University)

Dan Edelstein (Stanford University):

“From Right to Rights: On the Americanization of French Rights Talk.”

Camille Robcis (Cornell University):

“Republicanism and the Critique of Human Rights.”

-- Discussion --


Sponsored by the Program on Human Rights at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law; the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages; the France-Stanford Center; the French Culture Workshop; and the Stanford Humanities Center.



Modern theories of human rights grew out of a long history of debates over the rights humans inalienably possess. Recent scholars such as Samuel Moyn have questioned the relation between these historical debates -- including their ensuing declarations -- and contemporary rights theory. The panelists in this workshop will consider how the history of natural and human rights does (and does not) inform ongoing ideas about rights today.


About the presenters

Dan Edelstein (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, French, 2004) is Associate Professor of French and, by courtesy, History at Stanford University, working on eighteenth-century France, with research interests at the crossroads of literature, history, political theory, and digital humanities. He has published The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2009), and The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (University of Chicago Press, 2010), as well as numerous articles on the intellectual history of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

Jonas Ross Kjærgård (PhD-student at Aarhus University, Comparative Literature) is currently working on a project with the preliminary title The Struggle over Human Rights: Money, Equality, and Sentimentality in French Revolutionary Culture, 1787-1799. Recent publications include "The community of Rights: Human Rights and the Concept of Nature in the Context of the French Revolution and the Terror" (Akademisk Kvarter/Academic Quarter, 2012) and "Naturens lov: Slaveri, terror og menneskerettigheder i lyset af Olympe de Gouges' L'esclavage des nègres, ou l'heureux naufrage " (forthcoming in TfL: Tidsskrift för litteraturvetenskap).

Susan Maslan is Associate Professor of French at the University of California, Berkeley. She works on early modern French literary and political history. She is currently at work on a book-length project called “Citizen/Human: The Literary Genealogy of Human Rights in France, 1640-1795.” She has published the book Revolutionary Acts: Theater, Democracy, and the French Revolution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005) and multiple articles relating to revolutionary France and the rights of man.

Camille Robcis (Ph.D. Cornell, History, 2007) is Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University. Her first bookThe Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in Twentieth-Century France (Cornell University Press, 2013), examines how French policy makers have called upon structuralist anthropology and psychoanalysis to reassert the centrality of sexual difference as the foundation for all social and psychic organization. Her research interests focus on the historical construction of norms, the intellectual production of knowledge, and the articulation of gender and sexuality in the social sciences and particularly in psychoanalysis.