From Civil to Human Rights

From Civil to Human Rights

Dialogues on Law and Humanities in the United States and Europe

Helle Porsdam

Europeans have attempted for some time to develop a human rights talk and now European intellectuals are talking about the need to construct ‘European narratives’. This book illustrates that these narratives will emphasize a political and cultural vision for a multi-ethnic and more cosmopolitan Europe.

Introduction

Helle Porsdam

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

In a call for papers for the ‘Women in German Annual Conference 2007’, the organizers introduce the notion of Europe as ‘contested terrain’: The transatlantic tensions in the run-up to the Iraq invasion produced, for a while, the heady possibilities of imagining Europe as counterweight to American-style globalization. And while some believe that that utopian window has closed, we think it is still necessary to explore Europe as contested terrain – caught between colonial, imperialist, fascist, and totalitarian histories and their legacies (Pim Fortuyn’s Europe, as Arjun Appadurai has called it), and the enlightened, postEurocentric, antifascist Europe that is committed to learning its lessons from the past (Bassam Tibi’s Europe).1 In this book, I, too, wish to explore Europe as contested terrain. For me, as for the organizers of the ‘Women in German Annual Conference 2007’, the point of departure is transatlantic tensions. Transatlantic feelings are not as warm as they used to be, and if Timothy Garton Ash is correct in his assessment that the old Atlantic-centered West only has about twenty more years in which to play at least some part in setting the agenda of world politics and in seeking solutions to global problems such as global warming, the widening gap between rich and poor countries, and terrorism, then it really is ‘stupid for Europeans and Americans to waste any more time squabbling with each other’.2 The run-up to the Iraq invasion may indeed have made Americans on the Left view Europe as a counterweight to American-style...